Sunday, September 20, 2009

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.

Do You Believe in Second Chances?

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.”

“Very funny.”

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 for a chance to win the tour grand prize. If you’ve been following the tour from the beginning, here’s the clue....

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!

The winner of Annette's book will be randomly chosen and posted here on Tuesday evening. Stop back by to see if you've won!


Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Welcome to Paranormality, Annette! It's great to have you. I'm a firm believer in second (and third, and fourth, etc.) chances!

8:32 PM  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I believe in second chances for those who deserve and really want them.

8:37 PM  
Blogger donnas said...

While it has never happened to me I do believe that people who deserve them can get a second chance.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

Thanks for having me as a guest, Linda!

Mary - I think you nailed it with the 'those who really want them'. Some people regularly do things that are cruel and unfeeling -- those folks often see nothing wrong in what they did and wouldn't think they needed a second chance.

Donnas - The funny thing about second chances is people give them all the time, often with no expectation of getting something in return. The employer who forgives you for being late, even on an important day. The neighbor who overlooks that it took you three weeks to return his lawnmower and hands you his hedge trimmer. Call me an optimist, but I think lots of people are more forgiving than we give them credit. :-)

6:53 AM  
Blogger Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Annette! There's a valuable lesson for writers in your own story about second chances. Don't give up! We often have as much to do with the opportunity to have a second chance, as does the person who offers it to us.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Davina Pearson said...

Wow, I love the concept of the Soul Gatherers. What a fascinating take on purgatory.

I definitely believe in second chances - and the only way to know whether it's a deserved chance is to see what the person on the receiving end does with that second chance. How can you measure if a person deserves that chance before they've had it? My biggest second chance story was a personal one, and I am so grateful that I got it. I didn't deserve it at the time - but I like to think I've proved myself now. And if there were no second chances, the world would be a darker place.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post :)

7:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi :)
Thank you for an excellent interview Annette & Lynda.
I believe in 2nd chances and in a person's ability to re-invent themselves.
All the best,

7:58 AM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

Hi Vanessa! Never give up. Never surrender. LOL, I can't hear that phrase without thinking of Galaxy Quest. Am I the only one? Alan Rickman, you rock.

Davina - Thanks! Hope you get a chance to read the book. I can't imagine a world without second chances -- and I'm glad you got yours!

Hi RKCharron! I guess it all boils down to our ability and desire to change. Good luck in the draw!

8:08 AM  
Blogger Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Hey Ms. Lynda! Thank you for having Ms. Annette here today!
Ms. Annette, this is a very intriguing world you have created. Thank you for sharing this... this is now going on my TBB list as soon as I get home!
I love the concept of the Gathers. The excerpt you gave us... was a tease! LOL!!!

I do believe in second chances... if you can learn from the first mistake and take that knowledge and make things right. I believe we are all given second chances... no one is perfect and we all have had our mistakes, no matter how little the mistake was... we all have made them.
And I would love a chance to win your book... Thanks!
I hope you have a great day!

8:19 AM  
Blogger April said...

This looks and sounds so amazing! I love anything paranormal. I also believe that anyone who truly deserves a second chance will receive one - it is what they chose to do with it is what is vital.


9:14 AM  
Blogger susan said...

I am pleased to add my comment here and I truly feel we are given more than one chance. I had a second chance to live and what bigger chance is there than life itself. I was pronounced dead twice and here 25 years later to talk about it. susan L

10:06 AM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

Cecile - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

April - I agree, paranormal worlds are soooo much fun to visit.

Susan - Wow, that really is a second chance! Someone was definitely watching over you. So glad you were given it! Thanks for sharing.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Patricia Altner said...

Hi Lynda and Annette

Thanks for this entertaining and informative post.

Annette, the concept of your series is so unique, and the excerpt has me very intrigued. I am looking forward to reading Soul Gatherers.

I absolutely believe in second chances. They have been given to me countless times and I am grateful for each one.

10:21 AM  
Blogger LORETTA CANTON said...

Everyone deserve a second chance even it may be hard to give them one.


1:42 PM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

Patricia - Thanks for the lovely comments. I'm very grateful for the second chances I've received, too. :-)

Loretta - Absolutely! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Lisa N. said...

I do believe in second chances. I haven't had one really change my life, but I do know you can't always let first impressions guide your actions.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Barbara E. said...

I enjoyed the interview - and yes, I believe in second chances since we all make mistakes and deserve to learn from them and try to do better next time.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

Lisa N. - Not everyone needs a second chance but it's great if someone gives you one when you need it. :-)

Barbara - Thanks!

5:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

yes I do beleive in second chances, before i met my husband I was on a downward spiral, I was into all kinds of bad things. But after dating him for a few weeks he changed everything. We woke up 1 morning and he said thats it its over time to change. We have been married for 10 years and have 3 beautiful children.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Pamk said...

Sounds like a great read. Love the cover and I believe in second chances but only on some things. Unfortunately certain things with me are set in stone and you get no second chance. You hurt my kiddos and you've got to go.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Annette McCleave said...

sarabelle - What a terrific story! Thank you for sharing.

Pamk - Hurting children definitely falls into the group of people not deserving of and, I suspect, not looking for second chances.

Thanks for the warm welcome and all the terrific comments, everyone. Good luck in the draw. :-)

6:02 AM  
Blogger Candace said...

That is such an interesting take on purgatory! I love the idea of the Soul Gatherer's and this is really catching my interest because I just finished the Study series by Maria V. Snyder and those books also dealt with souls. I'm on a soul kick!! :D

I do believe people deserve second chances, but I think too many chances allows others the power to walk all over you, so to speak.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Rosemary Carstens said...

Second chances? Who among us does not need that at times--even third, fourth, and more chances as long as we are truly struggling to make things right. It's a good story concept!

6:06 PM  

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