Annie Reed has been called a master short story writer. She's a multiple Derringer nominee, was awarded a literary fellowship for one of her speculative fiction stories, and has appeared in back to back issues of The Mysterious Bookshop Presents The Best Mystery Stories of the Year (for 2022 and 2023) and will be appearing in Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023. Her stories are featured regularly in Pulphouse Fiction Magazine and Mystery, Crime and Mayhem. Her short fiction has also been selected for inclusion in English language study materials for Japanese college entrance exams.

A prolific, versatile, and award-winning writer, her longer works include the mystery novels Pretty Little Horses, Paper Bullets, and A Death in Cumberland, the suspense novel Shadow Life written under the name Kris Sparks, and the space opera novel Gray Lady Rising, co-written with bestselling author Robert Jeschonek. Annie also writes the sweet romance series Liberty Springs under the name Liz McKnight.

She lives in northern Nevada and can be found on the web at, on Facebook as annie.reed.142, and on Spoutible as @AnnieReed_Writer.

Unexpected Cats by Annie Reed

Five fantastic stories of decidedly unexpected felines and the people—and critters—who cross their paths.

Meet a budding entrepreneur whose business takes a hard left when a ghostly Siamese kitty makes her life all sorts of interesting.

Find unexpected love with a kind-hearted volunteer and unexpected hope with a woman facing the hardest moment of her life.

Discover the unexpected courage of a mouse determined to look his mortal enemy in the face and the dogged determination of a man on the wrong end of a mischievous spell.

These stories along with a special introduction by award-winning writer Annie Reed make this collection a must have for those of us lucky enough to share our lives with cats.



  • "One of the best writers I've come across in years. Annie excels at whatever genre of fiction she chooses to write."

    – Kristine Kathryn Rusch, award-winning editor and writer of The Retrieval Artist series
  • "Annie Reed writes powerful stories about strong women."

    – Dean Wesley Smith, editor, Pulphouse Fiction Magazine
  • "Annie's writing is magic, seriously."

    – Robert J. McCarter, author of A Ghost’s Memoir series
  • "You can't go wrong with Annie Reed. Her deftly-crafted tales—with characters as memorable as the stories themselves—far surpass most of what's out there."

    – Michael J. Totten, author of Resurrection



(excerpt from "Blame It on the Ghosts")

I'd wished on a shooting star. The one on my business card.

I'd said that I really wished it had worked.

Of course, by "it" I'd meant attracting Zach's attention, but whoever was in charge of granting wishes apparently wanted to teach me a lesson about using "it" instead of a more definite noun. So the "it" that had worked was my business—pet sitting for the stars.

Whoever was in charge of granting wishes apparently also had a wicked sense of humor, since all the stars I was pet sitting for were dead. At least they were all nice and their pets were well-behaved, even the dogs. The most annoying was a Saint Bernard who wanted to sleep on the bed with me. Thank goodness ghostly Saint Bernards don't weigh what real life Saint Bernards weigh, or it might have broken my bed. I'm not sure I could have explained that.

My streak of good, if weird, luck ran out when Howie Love showed up one morning before the crack of dawn. My alarm hadn't even gone off yet.

"Hello, beautiful!" he said. "How's it shaking?"

I grunted and opened one eye. Thanks to the glow from my cell phone charger, I could sort of see the ghostly kid's outline.

"It should still be sleeping," I said.

"Well, it's morning somewhere. I've kind of lost track since I've been… well, you know."

"Dead?" I asked.

I'm not normally that blunt with the ghosts, but most of them show up at reasonable hours, not at…

I thumbed on my cell and peered at the time. Good lord, it was four in the morning. No wonder I was cranky.

"Got it in one." He put his hands on his hips and struck a Peter Pan pose. "Let me introduce myself, since you're obviously too young to recognize me. I'm Howie Love, the star of—"

"Love's Parade," I said. I'd been studying up on child stars of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. "Aired from 1963 to 1966, when it went off the air due to your untimely death in a plane crash."

He winced at that, and I felt a little bad. After all, Howie Love had still been a child when he died. He'd never even gone to high school, much less gotten the chance to live an adult life.

"I need you to watch my cat, Adeline," he said.

I lifted my head up high enough to see a cat rubbing up against his ankles.

"I don't do cats," I said. "My brother's allergic."

I didn't know for sure if ghost cats would make Sammy sneeze like real cats did, but I wasn't about to chance it.

"You'll be fine," Howie said. "She's a sweetheart. She'll stay in here, your brother will stay out there, and everything will be hunky dory. See you in a week, beautiful!"

He gave me a jaunty salute with one hand and vanished, leaving the cat behind.

I stared at Adeline. She stared at me, the very tip of her tail twitching.

Well, I'd always wanted a cat. "Come here, sweetie," I said, holding out a hand to her.

My fingers were getting cold by the time Adeline decided to come see me. She sniffed my fingers, rubbed into my hand—and bit me.


I jerked my hand away and inspected my fingers. No blood, but they sure hurt.

Adeline, meanwhile, had jumped on top of my desk where she sat gazing at me with a very self-satisfied expression.

I turned on my cell phone to get a little more light, and that's when I noticed she was a Siamese. Stacy's aunt had a Siamese, which Stacy said wasn't really a cat at all but a bad-tempered diva in disguise.

I sighed. This was going to be a very long week.