November 3, 2011

Linda Poitevin Guest Post!

SINS OF THE ANGELS: the story that almost wasn’t

Do you believe in fate? That some things were just meant to be? I do…and never more so than with respect to Sins of the Angels, a story that came “that close” to never being written, let alone published. Backtrack with me several years and I’ll explain.

When I started writing Sins ten years ago, it had a different title (The Tenth Choir), different heroine (Meghan Butler), and different villain (Alastor). It also had a much too convoluted main character conflict, and holes through which I suspected I could drive a semi. Or perhaps a locomotive. After several unsuccessful attempts at improving the manuscript, I did what any I thought any smart writer would do when faced with a pile of garbage: I scrapped it.

Months later, however, I couldn’t get the story out of my head and so I started over. Fresh. From scratch. I made it about one chapter in before the traitorous thought first slithered through my mind: That scene I wrote about ‘xyz’ would be perfect here. Hm. I went in search of the first manuscript, only to realize that I hadn’t just scrapped it metaphorically, I’d done so literally. Thoroughly. Completely. I had, I recalled with sickening horror, recycled the multiple, red-pen-decorated hard copies I had accumulated and deleted the files from my computer and all the backup copies from their CD Roms (this was pre-USB key days).

I didn’t panic too much at first. I was certain that, with effort, I could recreate the story. But no matter what I wrote, a little inner voice kept telling me that I’d already written that, and that it had been better the first time around. By page 50, I’d stalled completely. The first draft, I realized, hadn’t been that bad after all, and no matter how hard I tried, there was no way I would ever recreate all its 344 pages. If I didn’t find a copy of that draft somewhere, this story simply wasn’t going to be written.

I tore my house apart, searching for a missed copy. I went through every CD Rom I could lay my hands on. Finally, in desperation, I sent out an email to all the friends that had read the story, hoping against hope that one of them might have (for whatever obscure reason) kept a copy of the manuscript. All replied in the negative…except one. My friend Paty, bless her heart, had kept her copy in her bottom drawer, unable to part with something I’d written…and of course I could have it back.

Long story short (well, shorter anyway), I learned a valuable lesson. No matter how much I don’t like something I write, I never ever hit delete. Ever. I save everything now…obsessively. I have files of deleted scenes, backup copies of everything I write, and backup copies of the backups. I’ve learned that what doesn’t work now may well work in the future, and I owe my friend Paty a debt of gratitude I may never be able to repay.

So when you read Sins of the Angels, a story that really was destined to be written, do me a favor and raise a glass in her direction for me, will you? She deserves it!

Sins of the Angels

Publisher's summary: When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis is assigned a new partner in Aramael, a Guardian Angel who doubles as a hit man, they have only one thing in common: a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse. Now they have no choice but to work together-relentlessly, fearlessly, intimately. Because only they can stop the rogue angel from ushering in the end of days.



MJ Thomas said...

It sound like a great mystery story with a clever twist.

Cathy Keaton said...

I keep seeing this one popping up everywhere, and it sounds really intriguing, probably right up my alley.

I enjoyed your story of how you finally found your old manuscript. That's very unusual, but amazing that your friend still had it after all those years!

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