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Raising the Dead (Soul Broker 2) Teaser

Raising the Dead DIGITAL.jpgI’m super-excited to announce that the sequel to Waking the Dead and second book in the Soul Broker series, Raising the Dead, is in production with City Owl Press! Release Day is January 16, 2017!

Afterlife management is a tricky business, especially for a living soul broker.

Juggling normal life with her otherworldly responsibilities—like helping departed souls cross to the other side while collecting grief from the living through her empathetic connection—just got a whole lot more complicated for Vivian Bedford. Her guardian spirit bosses, who make the mafia look tame, don’t like the side jobs she’s been taking to help living souls in peril.

But they don’t know the half of it.

She’s been working in secret with Lazarus Darkmore, a grim reaper and unlikely ally against the guardians’ hold on her. When a rogue guardian sends an ominous message that threatens to expose the alliance unless she stops, she has no choice but to put her trust in the reaper. But can a creature as dark and terrifying as Darkmore keep her safe, or will his appetite for cruelty and terror be her undoing?

With a spirit world energy crisis looming and guardian spirits closing in, Vivian must choose—toe the line with the guardians, plunge into darkness with the reaper, or join a rebellion that could unleash hell on earth.

Excerpt:

In the meantime, here’s a snippet to whet your appetite for the Reaper’s dark machinations for Vivian Bedford. Confronted with a sticky situation with a rogue guardian spirit, Lazarus Darkmore, Reaper, is the only creature to whom she can turn for help. Can she trust him? And what will be the price of his service?

***

They settled into an awkward silence, at least awkward for Vivian. Darkmore closed his eyes and inhaled the spring air. When he opened them, he regarded the Greek columns of the Parthenon before him with interest. “The materials are not authentic, of course, but I have to admit, it’s a decent reproduction. If you don’t have any more burdens to share, my dear, I think I should like to see Athena. It has been centuries!”

Now or never.

“I’m fresh out of burdens, but if you wouldn’t mind some company, there’s something else I’d like to discuss with you.”

Darkmore’s eyes widened as he said, “Oh my, the honorable Vivian Margaret Bedford, spiritual intercessor for the city’s downtrodden, wishes to consort with a grisly reaper? Tsk, tsk, what would Ezra think?”

“Never mind Ezra,” she said. “I have a big problem and I need some information from you and…possibly your help.”

There. She’d managed to ask for his help. Now she waited for the axe to fall.

“I take it that this ‘problem’ does not deal with the realm of the living. Very well. I’m intrigued, which may compensate for the paltry sustenance you brought today,” he said as he offered his arm. “Come along then, my dear.”

With a sense of falling, she placed her hand on his proffered arm, and before she could blink, they were standing before the impressive statue of the Greek goddess of wisdom, all forty-two feet of her. She felt Darkmore’s cool arm making its way around her back to support her as she shrieked. To her surprise, none of the other patrons turned in response, or even registered their presence.

Motherfucker!

“Now, now, Ms. Vivian,” he purred into her ear, his cool breath making goosebumps erupt over her flesh. “Do try to calm yourself. We are in the presence of divinity.”

“Couldn’t we just go through the fucking front door like normal people?” Vivian gasped. Spirit travel seemed cool in theory, but in reality it just made her nauseous. Not to mention nervous.

“But then we’d have to pay,” replied Darkmore.

When he was certain that she could stand on her own, he released Vivian and moved closer to the base of the statue. He seemed to be lost in admiration, as he didn’t even flinch when a couple walking hand-in-hand walked straight through him. She figured that Darkmore was trying to scare her, or impress her, or both. Probably both. Vivian knew that guardians and reapers could pull off tricks like that with ease, though she wasn’t quite certain if his lack of a corporeal presence extended to her. She moved out of their way just in case.

“It is a pity to keep the doors closed. The goddess would shine with more splendor by the light of the sun,” Darkmore remarked.

He was right. Her headdress, toga, spear, and shield were gilded. Vivian was more than a little surprised, not to mention impressed. In all of her years living in Nashville, she’d never stepped inside the Parthenon. It was remarkable.

“I was expecting plain marble, and not so much makeup,” she said, staring in wide-eyed wonder.

“Oh no, it was ivory over bronze back in the day—I believe that’s the expression. Her very dress once held much of the treasury for Athens. Hence, the gold. The mighty did, and often still do, enjoy audacious displays of wealth. Though she isn’t quite on par with Phidias,” he said, inclining his head toward her and spoke in a low and confidential tone. “This likeness captures the pretense of her remoteness and frigidity quite a bit better.”

“Huh?” she said, astonished. Athena was real? She was going to ask him to elaborate, but was caught off guard once more when Darkmore transported them from the floor to the statue’s shoulder.

He laughed. “Parthenos indeed! She was many, many things, the goddess, but the title of ‘virgin’ was dubious at best. Now then, come a little closer and tell me all of your troubles,” Darkmore drawled, pulling her beside him.

Now that would be an interesting story.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” She had to admit, being a little closer to the reaper eased her fear of falling. She didn’t think gravity would affect them in their current state, but decided to take no chances with that either.

“Of course I am,” he replied nonchalantly. “After all, it is in my nature. And your troubles are always most interesting.”

With a deep breath, Vivian gave her account of the attack on Father Montgomery at the hands of the unknown rogue guardian as Darkmore continued to examine the statue. She was a little annoyed by his apparent lack of concern, though he at least nodded from time to time to let her know that he was still listening. He only gave her his full attention when she got to the part about healing the priest.

“You’re a healer? You are full of surprises, Ms. Vivian.”

“I only just found out, and I still don’t know how it works or if I can heal people with regular ills as opposed to zaps from your kind,” she confessed.

“It wasn’t my kind who did this,” Darkmore said. He didn’t seem upset, but he waited until she nodded in acknowledgment.

“So why would a guardian want to hurt someone close to me?”

“To get your attention, of course.”

“No kidding,” Vivian said sardonically. “What I mean is, why does this one want me to stop what I’m doing? I’m on their side.” She blushed and put her head down then, realizing her faux pas.

Damn my big fucking mouth!

“What I meant is, um…I’m working with them, you know? For them. I didn’t mean…look, I know from experience that it’s not all black and white, and I sure as hell know that guardians aren’t always the good guys.”

“Which brought you to me,” Darkmore said. He didn’t seem smug, or angry, or even surprised. He just seemed…interested.

Good thing. Maybe he’d help her if she kept his attention and entertained him. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I need to know what I’m up against, and I’d like to find out who this so-called rogue guardian is and how to get him off my back. Can you help me?”

“That’s not the relevant question, my dear.”

“Then what is the relevant question?”

“You want to know if I am willing to help you, and what it will cost.”

“Well, yeah,” she answered. She was beginning to feel a bit ornery. “You don’t work for free, though I would have thought you’d be concerned enough about your meal ticket to want me safe.”

“Well, there is that,” he conceded, smiling.

Vivian was not amused. “So, will you help me or not?”

“Yes.”

“What will it cost?”

“I shall have to think on it. Do you trust me?” Darkmore asked.

“No more and no less than I trust any other spirit,” Vivian answered honestly.

“It’s a start. I’ll be in touch.”

With that, he disappeared, and Vivian found herself back on solid ground, left to wonder about what the going interest rate might be for her line of credit with Darkmore. She shuddered, knowing full well what sort of collateral he’d hold. She stared at Pandora on the statue’s pedestal. Well, I hope that isn’t a bad sign. Hope was definitely the key word.

 

***

 

Like it? Leave a Comment and let me know if you’d like an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review!

 

Blurb:

 

Afterlife management is a tricky business, especially for a living soul broker.

 

Juggling normal life with her otherworldly responsibilities—like helping departed souls cross to the other side while collecting grief from the living through her empathetic connection—just got a whole lot more complicated. Her guardian spirit bosses, who make the mafia look tame, don’t like the side jobs she’s been taking to help living souls in peril.

 

But they don’t know the half of it.

 

She’s been working in secret with Lazarus Darkmore, a grim reaper and unlikely ally against the guardians’ hold on her. When a rogue guardian sends an ominous message that threatens to expose the alliance unless she stops, she has no choice but to put her trust in the reaper.  But can a creature as dark and terrifying as Darkmore keep her safe, or will his appetite for cruelty and terror be her undoing?

 

With a spirit world energy crisis looming and guardian spirits closing in, Vivian must choose—toe the line with the guardians, plunge into darkness with the reaper, or join a rebellion that could unleash hell on earth.

New Release! Making Waves: Southern Elemental Guardians Novella 0.5

Go back to the beginning as Rhinemaidens Lorelei and Ilsa cross the Atlantic in style on The Wavesweeper, and enchanted ship captained by surly Celtic sea god MacLir. Before our mermaids begin their own adventures, they’ll conspire to help MacLir reunite with his long lost love, sea goddess Calypso.

Or perish trying.

Scheduled for release on July 15. Want it sooner? Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a copy for FREE before it goes on sale!

MakingWaves_SEG 0.5_FinalECvr_RBG150dpi

For disgruntled Celtic sea god MacLir, nothing beats the solace of Atlantic waves and mortal women. Disguised as captain of the luxury cruise ship Wave Sweeper, he gets his fill of both.

Until babysitting duties get in the way.

MacLir is charged with ferrying a pair of troublesome Rhinemaidens to the Americas, giving the mermaids their first taste of freedom. All he has to do is deliver them safely to their chaperone in the New World. Easy, right?

Unfortunately, Lorelei and Ilsa have a lust for adventure and a knack for causing problems. From full fins moonlight swims to bacchanal parties crashed by nymphs and satyrs, Captain MacLir has his hands full. But when the mermaids conspire to reunite MacLir with his long lost love, the sea goddess Calypso, they set off a storm fueled by old wounds and passionate desires.

Will love calm the waves, or will all on board perish in a fearsome maelstrom?

Teaser Tuesday – Three Wishes (A Southern Elemental Guardians Novella)

Three Wishes_ A Southern Elemental Guardians Novella - D.B. SiedersHey there, peeps!

 

 

Teaser Tuesday sneak peek at a novella in progress featuring the heroes from the Southern Elemental Guardians series!

 

 

SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t read Lorelei’s Lyric or (especially) Crosscurrents – be warned!

 

Here’s the premise:

A Sylph, a Merman, and a Rock Star get into a car…

It was the Sylph’s idea—a guy’s trip to Las Vegas before Paul Pulaski and Vance Idol say goodbye to bachelorhood forever. Bruce has big plans to show his buddies a great time while having a little fun of his own in Sin City.

Mischief and mayhem ensue when the trio hit the tables, the strip, and get roped into a surprise performance at the Bellagio that gives Cirque Du Soleil a run for its money. But when Bruce gets them an audience with a bona fide Genie, will their wishes come true, or will demons past derail their happily ever afters permanently?

***

If you like what you read, grab a copy of Lorelei’s Lyric and Crosscurrents! Better yet, if you’re willing to leave honest reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I’m giving away review eBooks for FREE until the end of the month. No strings. You agree to read, review honestly—no pressure from me for a specific star rating or review content—and you get free books. Fair, honest, and I get a boost in my review numbers for better visibility on Amazon and iBooks.

Teaser:

Get in the car.”

Vance Idol had seen some weirdness in his day. Oddly enough, the weirdest had been while he was sober.

But standing in his driveway with his soon-to-be brother-in-law, a guy who’d recently discovered he was a merman, and staring at Bruce the winged freak as he beckoned Vance and Paul to hop in a 1969 red Mustang?

This rock and roll life just got a whole lot weirder.

“Birdboy, do you even have a license?” Paul Pulaski, merman/future bro-in-law, appeared to be taking it all in stride. Maybe Paul hadn’t yet experienced one of Bruce’s “thrill rides.”

Bruce put a hand to his bare chest in mock indignation. Must’ve forgotten his shirt. Again. Either that or he just wanted to show off. Exhibitionism was his middle name. “You wound me, Flipper boy! I’ve been driving since cars were invented. Mustangs are my fave!”

Vance sighed. “Can I assume there’s enough space in there for our bags and my guitar? Looks a little crowded with the wings and ego.”

Bruce popped the trunk, hopped out, and started grabbing bags and tossing them in back. Vance held onto his guitar. Not that he didn’t trust the Sylph…mostly—after all, Bruce was an elemental guardian of air and wind. No matter how hard he threw the bags, enchanted air would soften the blow and protect their breakables. But his custom-made acoustic embodied his livelihood and his second greatest love: music. It had been gifted to him by his greatest love. Lorelei, Siren of the Rhine, had saved him from his demons and brought him back to sobriety and life. For reasons he still didn’t fathom, she loved him and had vowed to spend eternity with him.

Which meant he had eternal life so long as he honored her love and returned it.

Well, that wasn’t so tough, the love and fidelity part. Keeping his demons and bay, the ones that told him he didn’t deserve her? Yeah. Tall order.

“What are you waiting for, Idol? A gold-embossed invitation? No, wait, you’d want platinum, like your albums.” Bruce grinned like a freakin’ giddy schoolgirl. A six-foot-something schoolgirl sporting brown-feathered wings, yellow eyes, and those damned buckskin pants that blended in exactly nowhere.

“You’re going like that?” Vance asked, pointing at the pants. “If so, can I assume we’re hitting pride week out west or Comic Con? You’ll make the other cosplayers green with envy even if they don’t know what the hell you are.”

“Give it a few centuries, former mortals, and you’ll become as fashion savvy as yours truly.”

Yeah, Bruce could put the “fairy” in Fae. The guy always seemed comfortable in his own skin—shirtless and leather clad. And he’d lived long enough to try anything and anyone. Forget pansexual. The giant eagle dude was fucking omni.

Not that it mattered. They were all practically brothers. Besides, he’d never make a pass at Vance or Paul even if they weren’t. Between Lorelei and Ilsa, Paul’s fiancée and Lorelei’s sister, the Sylph wouldn’t live long enough to regret it. Plus Bruce was cool. Not that Vance would ever admit that out loud. The guy already had an ego the size of Montana.

Bruce chuckled. “Oh I’ll blend where we’re going. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure and make myself look like a respectable mortal man before we arrive. Now, put the guitar in the trunk, put your ass in the seat, and let’s get going.”

After Bruce jumped back in the driver’s seat, Paul turned to Vance and asked, “Do you have any idea where this crazy fucker’s taking us?”

Vance shrugged. “Not a clue. Just go with it. He’ll never shut up if we don’t.”

Paul’s eye twitched and his jaw clenched. So much for taking things in stride. Interesting. Yeah, maybe Pulaski hadn’t quite forgiven Bruce yet. Could still be harboring some jealousy over the fling Bruce had with Ilsa—before she met Paul. Some guys had trouble letting go of the past.

Vance should know.

And Pulaski had his own demons. Different flavor than Vance’s, but maybe as tough to wrestle.

Shit. If they survived this guy’s road trip, it would be a damned miracle.

But you know it’s going to be one helluva ride.

Pulaski called shotgun. Just as well. Vance slid his guitar case in the back and then planted himself on the smooth, black leather seat. Bruce had great taste in cars. He’d give the birdman that.

“Seatbelts, ladies,” Bruce said, fiddling with the console until AC/DC blared from the speakers. Apparently birdman had great tastes in music, too. This road trip might just turn out all right.

Paul groaned. “Why do we need seatbelts? We’re all immortal.”

“Because I said so. Because it’s my car. And because even immortals get big boo boos when they fall out of the sky.”

Fall out of the sky?

Bruce gunned the engine and the car took off. Literally. Vance yanked his seatbelt over his shoulder and buckled the damned thing just as the car went airborne.

“That’s right!” Bruce yelled over the music. “Buckle up, bros! Vegas, here we come!”

Teaser Tuesday – Firestorm (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 3)

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Hot on the heels of Crosscurrents, Firestorm (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 3) is coming along nicely!

Speaking of hot, Sylph Prince Tlanuwa, a.k.a. Bruce in the modern age, has his hands full with a fiery Phoenix. And, boy, has he ever met his match! What begins as an investigation into a rogue hybrid Sylph known as ‘Hawk’— who’s been misusing his powers on mortal skydiving adventures—takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

And the consequences be apocalyptic!

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come. If you want to get to know Bruce sooner, check out his appearances in Lorelei’s Lyric and Crosscurrents, available now on Amazon and iBooks.

***

Well done, little sparrow.

In addition to winning his bet with Dak, which was honestly reward enough, watching the small mortal woman overcome obvious fear and distress and complete the jump gave Bruce’s adventurous heart a thrill. Plus, she’d likely thrown Hawk off guard.

With any luck, the hybrid would compensate with wind power and give them the evidence they needed to punish the fool.

Cloaking his presence, he flew as close as he dared to the pair in free fall, balancing the necessity of detecting whatever weak elemental energy signature Hawk might unleash with the need to avoid detection himself. The woman’s eyes remained tightly closed, her body stiff in spite of the force of the fall, her face twisted in a rictus of anguish that cut Bruce to the core. Whatever tormented her clearly went beyond the fear of hurling through the air. She seemed on the verge of losing her very soul.

An unexpected blast of heat hit Bruce and knocked him off his flight path. What in the name of the gods? How did Hawk manage that?

Bruce regained control and signaled to Red and Dak. Someone was channeling some serious elemental energy. If Hawk had allies with that much power, they’d need back up. But a hybrid Sylph should only have dominion over wind, not fire.

Bruce came back abreast of Hawk and the woman in spite of the growing heat. Blast, why hadn’t the fool deployed the damned parachute yet? Every other mortal in the party now soared above the earth under the support of flimsy fabric. Red and Dak were floating in a sea of flying humans, for gods’ sake.

What if the parachute had malfunctioned?

Bruce calculated the distance to the ground and gauged their rate of descent. Hawk couldn’t afford the fall. Most hybrids weren’t immortal, and no one, not even Elemental Guardians, were immune to pain. Bruce could wait a bit longer before intervening.

If not for the woman.

Busting a rogue hybrid wasn’t worth the cost of a mortal life.

He banked right and prepared to send a blast of wind to buoy the pair until he could improvise a way to get the to the ground safely and without detection. Just as he inhaled a deep, fortifying breath, he caught the scent of smoke and a surge of power the likes of which he’d never experienced. Hawk rolled, hurling the pair toward the ground as he and the woman fought over some small object.

Then it hit him. She was the source of the elemental energy.

Great gods!

“Dak, Red! Sweep the mortals to safety! We have a fire elemental in the mix. A pureblood. And she’s getting ready to blow!”

His Sylph brothers whipped up an east wind that sent the mortals on what was likely a terrifying ride. No matter. The experienced instructors could land them safely on the adjacent field. With any luck, the hapless mortals wouldn’t witness whatever was coming next.

Bruce dove, sucking as much air as possible away from Hawk and the female elemental in hopes of suffocating her fire. The pair suddenly shifted away under the power of another’s wind. Damn it! Why was Hawk moving away? Surely by now he must have realized how far out of his element he was with his passenger. Bruce gave chase, dropping his shield charm and appearing before the pair.

They didn’t notice. They were too busy grappling with each other over some metallic orb like a pair of petulant children fighting over a ball.

“Stop, you fools! You’re violating almost all of our kind’s rules of secrecy and giving me whiplash in the process!”

The female’s head jerked up and her glowing gaze met his. He’d never seen anything so beautiful and so horrifying.

“What are you?” he asked, his voice barely carrying over the wind.

“Help me!” she screamed, her warped voice full of terror.

Aw, Hades. She was scary as fuck, but she’d asked him for help. He didn’t understand why a creature packing that kind of heat, literally, needed his help, but clearly the situation had escalated to more than a rogue hybrid misusing his powers. And Hawk seemed hell bent on slamming himself into the ground and taking her with him.

Dakota showed up and grabbed Hawk by the neck, slowing their descent while Bruce tugged on the female. His hands burned and his lungs filled with hot air and smoke, but he fought to loosen her straps. He managed, but she refused to let go of Hawk and the small orb.

“Let go!” he yelled, fighting through waves of pain his cooling winds couldn’t quite soothe.

“No!” she screamed. “You don’t understand. I have to destroy it!”

“Keep this up and you’ll destroy us all! Dak, heave!”

The wiry Sylph Lord channeled his considerable strength and power to wrench Hawk away from the female, which sent Bruce and his fiery cargo hurtling toward the earth. Bruce summoned gale force winds and storm clouds to break their fall and carry them away in a violent, and blessedly cooling, downpour.

He held on to the trembling creature in his arms, or perhaps his flesh had melted into the fabric of her jumpsuit. Fighting pain and exhaustion, Bruce crash landed on top of a nearby hill and dropped his burden unceremoniously to the ground. He shouldn’t risk it, but he needed to heal. It wasn’t as if he could fight whatever flavor of elemental she was in his current state.

If he could fight her and the raw power she wielded at all.

She didn’t appear willing or able to fight at the moment. She curled up on the ground in a fetal position, shaking and keening in the scorched earth upon which she rested.

Disappearing into the air, he let his element rush through his essence, soothing, cooling, invigorating. Great gods, what had happened out there?

Red landed nearby, feathers ruffled but thankfully unscorched. He approached the elemental on the ground with caution, amber eyes wide and posture stiff with tension. “Tlanuwa,” he called. “You are unharmed?”

Bruce materialized. Judging from the look Red shot him, he must have still looked like fried chicken. Made sense, since he felt like fried fucking chicken. “I’ll do,” he muttered, joining Red and trying to wrap his mind around what had just happened.

“Where’s Hawk?”

Red waved a dismissive hand. “Dak took care of him. We’ll deal with him later. It would seem we have more pressing matters.”

No shit. The fire elemental showed no signs of aggression. She seemed damned near lifeless. Whatever. She could talk at least. Throwing caution to the wind, Bruce knelt down on the ground, yanked her chin, and got right up in her face. “You’ve got some explaining to do. Care to start?”

A blast of fire threw him to the other side of the hill and into a pile of rocks.

Red landed right beside him.

“My Prince, you know you have my undying loyalty and fealty, but as your trusted advisor and friend, I must advise you to, for once in your existence, shut the hell up.”

“What?” Bruce replied, staggering to his feet and shaking the dust off. “It’s a legitimate question.”

The fire elemental rose with flames rippling from her form, burning mortal garments, and searing the foliage all around her. She turned her gaze to the far horizon and unleashed a blood-curdling scream. Bruce and Red turned and saw a cloud of smoke, ash, and flame rise in the distance as a figure emerged, its fiery plumage blinding and brilliant as it soared away.

“Great gods,” Bruce muttered. So much for rumors. The Phoenix had arisen, at least two. One more and—

Something crashed against his temple. “Ouch! What was that for?”

The female Phoenix, for that’s what she was, no doubt about it, pointed to the shiny metal orb resting on the ground at Bruce’s feet. “Kill me. Kill me now, put my ashes in that, and scatter them to the four winds before we all perish!”

Teaser Tuesday – Angsty Rocker with a Dark Past

Happy December!

Today’s Teaser Tuesday is all about Vance Idol, an up-and-coming rock star battling demons on the eve of his band’s big break. When we first meet him in Lorelei’s Lyric, we find a troubled man in a very, very bad place. No wonder his heartache calls to the healer and nurturer in Lorelei.

This one’s for all of the angst junkies out there!

If you like what you’ve read, grab a copy of Lorelei’s Lyric to read more! You can also sign up for my Author Newsletter to get bonus content, as well as updates on new releases and fun giveaways!

Excerpt

 

 

 

“Hey Vance, we’re on in ten, okay?”

 

Vance Idol nearly jumped out of his skin. The sound of his bassist’s knocking ricocheted through his pounding skull. Mark Rogen’s voice, on the other hand, sounded muffled and distant though he stood right outside the bathroom door. Vance cradled his aching head in his hands, brow slicked with sweat underneath trembling fingertips, and let out a low groan.

 

“You okay in there, bro?”

 

“I’m fine,” Vance managed to croak. He hoped he sounded more convincing than he felt.

 

“Look, I know it’s been tough…but we can’t blow this gig. Mags would’ve wanted us to go on.”

 

“I know,” Vance snapped. “Just give me a sec to get it together, okay?”

 

“Okay, but if you aren’t out in five I’m grabbing Josh.”

 

Heavy footfalls echoed down the corridor, and Vance’s nanosecond of relief faded with them. He needed to get a grip. He couldn’t afford to screw this up. The band had been working their asses off in every dive bar, shit hole, and roadhouse from New York to Cali and back again for the past five years. Nashville was one of their last stops on the long and winding road to discovery and a shot at the big time.

 

After all those years of paying dues, they’d wrangled a tour/production manager, a couple of regular crew, and plum gig at Marathon Music Works. Along with a loyal fanbase, Internet buzz, and a lot of self-promotion, The Rivermen, with Vance Idol billed as the frontman, managed to attract a sizeable crowd. The frontman bit happened on account of the small sliver of “fame” Vance garnered on a television talent show. He didn’t make it to the finals but got far enough to be remembered. Yeah, that fame was about fourteen minutes, thirty seconds and counting, but it apparently still helped. Their lead guitarist, Joshua Rollins, had even spotted a couple of producers in the audience just before Vance excused himself.

 

I need a drink.

 

Okay, technically, he couldn’t chalk his misery up to withdrawal anymore. That nightmare passed shortly after he’d quit drinking cold turkey. No, the oh-so-clinical term for this special brand of hell, according to the docs and counselors, was post-acute withdrawal syndrome. PAWS, they called it. Yeah, real cute and clever. Only there was nothing cute or funny about chronic insomnia, soul-sucking depression, or cravings that never went away. Then there was the joy of panic attacks and mood swings, though the latter fit with the surly rocker image. Good thing he’d picked a profession that allowed him to channel his inner black-hearted bastard.

 

He’d been warned, to be sure. His stint in rehab had been short, if if not sweet, and the staff thought he’d left too soon. But hell, the band needed him and he didn’t want to let them down by bailing for a few months, not when he was convinced he could deal with his problems all on his own. Now, faced with performance pressure and the ghosts of his past, he was on the verge of blowing it.

 

He stood and paced around the small room. Sweat seeped from every pore as anxiety pierced his gut like a thousand knives. His innards protested at the sudden change in equilibrium, forcing his left hand to grip the cool porcelain in front of him as his right strummed along the surface of the sink.

 

Perched on that sink was the key to oblivion, the bottle filled with amber liquid that would ease his pain and steal his soul. Again.

 

“Aw, hell!”

 

Everything had been fine. Scratch that, it had been shit, but the manageable kind of shit that still allowed him to drag his sorry ass out of bed, sleepwalk through his day, and pull himself together long enough for a gig. But then he’d walked into the dressing room and found a fifth of Jack sitting front and center on a small table, gift-wrapped with a damned purple ribbon. Someone must have sneaked it in while the crew was busy. Those guys knew alcohol was a no go on account of their lead’s little problem. But hell, he should’ve been prepared for the possibility. For staff, groupies, sleazy execs—anyone on the scene who wanted to get in good with the band and grease some wheels with social lubrication—booze was the go-to. Just like the pills some skank out on the floor shoved into his palm, some kind of free sample as she breezed by, chilling him to the bone in her wake. He hadn’t been on the wagon that long, and dealers knew how to sniff out desperation.

 

Not that he was into pills.

 

Yet.

 

Jesus, this was bad. Really bad. He should’ve turned around and bolted out the door as soon as he spotted the bottle. But no, he’d stuck around long enough to let his old mistress start whispering her pretty lies, tempting him to sneak off to the bathroom and take a swig. He was such an idiot for jeopardizing his recovery and his band’s last shot at the big time, but a combination of nerves and  grief had him clinging to his old crutch. He could have poured it down the sink, but then that sweet scent hit him, almost eased him. At first, he thought knowing it was there would be enough, buying into the delusion that he could always get rid of it as soon as they wrapped up their show.

 

Instead, he now stood at the precipice of disaster, overlooking a downward spiral from which he might never emerge.

 

He slammed his fist against the sink as anguish, frustration, and shame forced the strangled cry from his throat. The pain of the blow might have made him throw up, but he hadn’t eaten more than a bag of chips the entire day. He couldn’t risk it. Three bottles of Pepto and a Dramamine over the past twenty-four hours served as insurance against the messier symptoms he could ill afford on stage.

 

Just one more time, and I swear I’m done with this. I gotta get through tonight and then I’m done.

 

Hating himself, Vance picked up the bottle and pressed it to his lips. He’d had the lid unscrewed by the time Mark started banging on door. His eyes were already bloodshot, and he could chase the hooch with a couple of uppers and still make it to the stage. He’d have to scarf down some breath mints if he didn’t want Josh to find out he was drinking again.

 

No, damn it, this is the last time!

 

Staring in the mirror, he wished he could punch the guy glaring back at him. He still had his looks, but weight loss and insomnia had taken their toll. His already prominent cheekbones jutted out from a gaunt face he barely recognized, and the hard set of his jaw told of a life lived too hard and too fast. Though bloodshot, his green eyes blazed with all the rage and pain he carried inside. He looked dangerous.

 

Yeah, you’re real fucking glamorous, asshole.

 

He took a swig, letting the sweet taste and slow burn assault his senses as the liquid filled his mouth, but stopped short of swallowing. He closed his eyes, and waited, savoring the sensation before shame could drown it. The sweet oblivion he craved wouldn’t come, not without a lot more. But maybe he could get through the next few hours. The ache in his back and legs would ease, and his hands might stop trembling. All he had to do was let it roll down his throat.

 

A vision of Maggie flashed in his mind, smiling, healthy, and whole—so very different from the strung-out junkie he’d last seen at the morgue after losing her to her demons and a poison not unlike the one he was about to swallow. Different from the ruined man he saw every time he looked in the mirror.

 

He couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t do it.”

***

Will he or won’t he? To find out, grab your copy of Lorelei’s Lyric (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 1) today!

Teaser Tuesday!

I’m sharing a new excerpt of Lorelei’s Lyric! This one features Lorelei’s first encounter with Vance Idol during his performance in Nashville. She’s captivated with his voice, his stage presence, and the soul-deep yearning she feels in his music. She also envies his ability to share the gift of song – something her Siren calls prevents her from doing.

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Teaser Tuesday Excerpt:

 

Her thoughts stopped cold as soon as a tall man dressed in black strode across the stage.

 
Ignoring his bandmate, the man, presumably Vance, slung his guitar strap over a broad shoulder, nodded to the drummer, and then played a series of powerful chords that kick started the band into what promised to be a fast-paced rock-and-roll ride straight to ecstasy. Lorelei grabbed Ilsa’s hand and squeezed it in gratitude. They’d sampled jazz, blues, and a fair bit of rockabilly country on their travels, but the music filling her ears and quickening her pulse—this was pure rock.

 
Then the man in black started to sing.

 
His powerful voice reached out through the microphone and wrapped her body in a commanding grip she felt all the way to her toes. His rugged, masculine features alive with passion, he sang with a tightly leashed fury that held the audience in a state of awe. And the way he played? His guitar strokes seemed to trail over her skin.

 
“Wow!” Ilsa shouted over the music.

 
Lorelei, still captivated by the man and his music, could only manage a small nod in response.

 
“Hello? Lorelei? Better close your mouth before you start drooling.”

 
“He’s amazing! He could be part Nix!”

 
“Well he sure seems to have cast a siren spell on you! You can thank me later when you’re done gawking.”

 
That may take a while, ‘cause I think I could stare at him all night.

 
The band transitioned seamlessly from fast and furious to a slower, more sensual ballad that showcased the lead singer’s sexy voice and sexier stage presence.

 
There’s this place I go
When I’m feeling low
And the world’s closing in around me
The place where we first met,
Oh, just one sweet sunset
And I can breathe so free and easy

 

When she managed to tear her gaze away from him and glance around the room, she realized she wasn’t the only one affected. Almost every woman looked on with admiration, hunger, or outright lust. The men in the audience didn’t seem to mind, since the music also made their ladies sway, shimmy, and gyrate to the seductive beat while they got to enjoy the view. Plus, they were all enraptured by the music.

 
It was pure magic.

 
She turned her focus back to Vance. He’d slowed his movements to match the pace of the music, which allowed her to get a really good look at him. Like the lead guitarist, his arms were well-muscled. His strong left hand held the guitar’s neck in a powerful grip while the long fingers of his right stroked and caressed the strings. The tight black shirt he wore, now damp with sweat, accentuated a muscular chest and torso that tapered down to a trim waist. In truth, he looked a bit too thin, but that only added to the hungry and impassioned look that made his performance all the more compelling. A mop of jet-black hair framed his handsome face. Looks, charisma, and that amazing voice—the man had it all. And his words resonated with the deep longing within her.

 
The road’s been long and lonely
I yearn to rest my weary head
The only peace I’ll find,
Outside a box of pine
Is where we once shared a bed

 

The bittersweet twinge of envy she always felt in the presence of human musicians tugged at her just then. Mortal man Vance, you don’t know how lucky you are. Your songs are a gift of pure pleasure and joy. Like all her Nixie kin, Lorelei possessed a stunning voice. She loved singing more than anything else in the world. She knew and could sing thousands upon thousands of songs in at least two-dozen languages.

 
And if she sang any of them long enough, someone would die.

 

“Wanna stay for the rest of the show? I’ll just bet we could wrangle an invitation backstage if we work our way up front and center.”

 
“Huh?”

 
Ilsa laughed. “I asked if you want to hang around and see about hooking up with Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Musical.”

 
Probably not a good idea. This guy could definitely get me in trouble.

 

“Nah, that’s okay. How about we hit the Wildhorse next and see if we can snag a couple of cute dance partners?”

 
“You sure? He’s checking you out.”

 
She looked back toward the stage and locked her gaze with Vance’s. For all the joy and passion he poured into his performance, the look in his eyes was…haunted. That soul-deep longing she’d heard in his first song shone through his blazing green eyes, calling to her and begging her to make it right.

 
Oh, this is home to me,
And you’re the only thing I see
You may be long gone
But I still feel you there
Ever young and strong
And I’ll find a way to go on and on
In the love we used to share

 

This is home.

 

While she still had the will to walk away, Lorelei tore her eyes away from him and turned back to Ilsa. “I’m sure. It’s definitely time to go.”

Excerpt From: D.B. Sieders. “Lorelei’s Lyric.” 

Writers’ Journeys (Alternate Title: Sometimes You Get Encouragement When You Need it The Most)

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 2.27.51 PMSometimes, you get encouragement at just the right time from just the right people.

So I’ve been a little bummed lately. Oh, the milestones have come and still roll in: my first publication, getting representation, being reviewed by some top notch editors. We should all have these problems, right?

But the rejection train isn’t a fun ride. Feedback is great, because if a writer knows what to fix, she (or he) can fix it. Higher word count? Sure thing! More emotional depth and characterization? You got it! Grounding in the setting? Okie dokie!

 

But what does one do about this?

“The writing is very good but…mermaids are turning out to be a tough sell.”

“We are having a hard time selling the mermaid books, even though this one seems like a lot of fun!”

Or this?

“I liked the author’s naughty sense of humor…while I enjoyed the insider look at the city, romances set in foreign locales are generally more difficult to sell.”

“While there are some very fun moments…the humor skewed just a bit broad for my tastes.”

And this?

The writing is pretty strong and pacing good, however, I just don’t think it’s a good fit for our list.”

“I really enjoyed this manuscript!  The problem is I’m just not sure how we can break this out in a big way.”

 

Granted, these are very nice rejections from some top notch industry professionals (many of whom asked for a look at future projects), but at the end of the day, they’re still passes. So what to do? Well, one can wallow, or one can keep revising and hoping. I’ve been doing the latter, but it’s still pretty discouraging.

That’s usually a good time to go and commiserate with other authors who’ve endured exactly the same thing, some for longer than I’ve been writing. I had the opportunity to do just that a few days ago. Parnassus Books in Nashville hosted wonderful authors Jenny Milchman and AJ Scudiere in a night of sharing their writers’ journeys. I first met Jenny through the ABNA community and had the pleasure of meeting her in person a few years ago on her cross-country tour of Indie Bookstores. She is an author’s author, dedicated to supporting her fellow writers regardless of their path to publication. Reading her Made It Moments blog series never fails to inspire me. Hearing about her path to traditional publication, which took over ten years, served as a reminder to have hope (and remain patient).

I met AJ last year at Killer Nashville and enjoyed her panel discussions. She also encountered similar challenges and ultimately found success through the small press route. They were both very generous and candid with the pros and cons, the struggles, and the message that there is no right or wrong path to publication – there’s finding the path that’s right for you.

So where does that leave me? Well, I have more work to do, more decisions to make about which projects may be better suited for the indie route and which have a better shot with traditional, but I’m definitely more energized and motivated. I’m fortunate to have the support of two wonderful and hardworking agents and a network of fellow writers and beta readers, and I do have time. I have to remind myself about that last point – it’s not a race.

Thanks also to fellow author friends Jaden Terrell and Teal Haviland for making the evening even more fun and inspiring!