Guest Blogger: Annette McCleave
The winner of Annette's book is: RKCharron! Congrats! Send me your contact info and I'll pass it along to Annette. Thanks to everyone who participated.
I betting you do. Most people make mistakes — it’s human nature. Fortunately, we tend to learn from our mistakes, so failing doesn’t always mean disaster. Not that I always understood that. I was born a perfectionist — one of those high-strung people who avoid making any kind of mistake, who aim for nothing but smooth sailing all the way. It took me a long time to notice that life lessons sunk in faster when I failed (sometimes spectacularly), and that the folks who gave me a second chance weren’t just being nice, they were teaching me to get back up and try again.
Perhaps that’s why I imagined the world of the Soul Gatherers the way I did. Because we all need second chances. My Soul Gatherers are strong and capable, but imperfect — each one of them is serving a term in purgatory, trying to earn their way into heaven after making some serious mistakes in their lives. They’re sinners. On the surface, it may be hard to understand how a sinner could be a hero — but that’s where the second chance comes in.
In the Soul Gatherer world, even sins aren’t black and white. What matters is how tattered their honor is. Here’s how one of my Soul Gatherers explains it to the heroine if my debut novel, DRAWN INTO DARKNESS, Rachel:
She glanced up. “How reassuring, they pick morons to be Soul Gatherers.”
“Ouch. But for the record, Death doesn’t pick morons, just sinners. Morons don’t last long in this job.”
“Don’t all the sinners go to hell?”
“No, believe it or not, a lot of them make it into heaven. God’s big on the whole forgiveness schtick. Only the completely unredeemable souls go to hell.” He grinned. “I didn’t qualify. We Gatherers aren’t rotten enough for hell and aren’t sweet enough for heaven. We’re getting one last chance to prove ourselves.”
“I see.” Sort of. “But Gatherers are all men, right? What happens to the women who fall into a similar limbo?”
“Doomed to an eternity as high school guidance counselors, I think.”
His eyes twinkled. “Seriously? The odd woman passes muster as a Gatherer, but you’re right, most don’t. They and the guys who aren’t natural warriors end up working somewhere in Death’s bureaucracy, managing her messaging system, extracting relevant information from the huge volumes of data she collects on humans, giving us our job assignments, that type of thing.”
“Hey, no one said purgatory would be fun.”
Second chances can often turn a failure into a success. My first attempt to get published with NAL — with a manuscript titled A Dragon’s Oath -- met with a nice, but very firm No Thank You. If the editors at NAL hadn’t been willing to give me a second chance and read a later manuscript, DRAWN INTO DARKNESS would not be on store shelves proudly displaying their signet Eclipse logo today. Obviously, that’s one second chance that changed my life.
Do you have a second chance story? Did someone offer you the opportunity to turn things around — one that ended up making a huge difference in your life? Do you have a reason for believing in second chances? If you do, please share. To encourage you to wade into the conversation, I’m offering one lucky commenter a copy of my debut paranormal romance DRAWN INTO DARKNESS.
p.s. This is also a stop on my “Cross into Darkness” blog tour, so feel free to visit my website at
Paranormality clue: Second word of the two-word answer is a varied spelling of an African animal.
Good luck, and thanks for joining me today!