Things I Should Have Said and Done is the first novel by Colette McCormick and was published by Accent Press on 15 November 2016 in both ebook and paperback. It’s a pleasure to welcome Colette to the blog with a guest post.
A Long Apprenticeship
As a child, I was always fond of English lessons, especially when I got the chance to write stories. I can remember once asking the teacher if I could start a story that I could carry on with in the next lesson and maybe the one after that. Was this my first attempt at a novel? When I was a bit older I remember standing at the front of the class reading out a story I’d written called “The Plaything Princess.” Why is it that I can’t remember what I did this afternoon but I can remember the title of that story? I can’t recall what it was about though, something to do with Christmas I think.
The first time I ever wrote anything with a view to getting it published was for a writing competition run by Jackie magazine. Unfortunately I was only a runner up so my story wasn’t published but I did get my name in the magazine – and a pen. I wonder whatever happened to that pen.
I wrote a picture book type story for young children when I was a teenager and although it was turned down I did get a lovely letter from the editor telling me why they had turned it down. At the time I didn’t appreciate that getting an actual letter with actual feedback rather than a rejection slip was a big deal so it didn’t mean anything to me. I often wish that I’d kept that letter.
A couple of years later I tried a novel, well a couple actually. The first one was called “Enter Miss Louise Pemberton,” (I know, what was I thinking?) but it didn’t really get off the ground and the second was about a girl whose boyfriend was a twin. However the twin had died in the womb and the boyfriend somehow took on the dead twin’s evil personality. I can’t say that I remember anything else about it other than when it came back from wherever I had sent it, the accompanying letter said that it showed promise and that I should work with one of their editors. I was excited at first until I realised that there was a cost involved. I knew that it wasn’t the type of publishing deal that I wanted so I never pursued it.
After that my writing died a death in many ways or at least it did in terms of trying to get things published – until 11th September 2001 that is. On the morning of that day, which happened to be my son’s 18th birthday I came up with an idea and made a few notes. I wrote the story but it didn’t quite have the legs and came to an end at about 40,000 words. I still have it and who knows, maybe one day.
I spent the next few years writing short stories and articles for magazines and books and had some published in Britain and abroad. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I received my first commission. It was an amazing feeling. Sadly for me, the editor retired just after that and I was never invited back.
Which brings us to the book that did make it. “Things I Should Have Said and Done,” took a couple of years to write as by then I was working full time and had to fit writing in and around work commitments. When it was finished I sent it off without success and was disheartened because I knew this was the best I had written. Then in 2013 I was seriously ill and that made me rethink my life and what I wanted to do with it. I realised that I could live with the fact that I hadn’t got the book deal that I had always dreamed of, but only if I had given it my best shot. Up to that point I hadn’t done that. So I looked at the book again, objectively this time and rewrote sections of it. Then I sent it to Accent Press and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s been a long apprenticeship, more than forty years but I finally feel like I’ve got my first real job.
About the book:
Ellen never knew what hit her. But when a drunk driver runs a red light her life is over in an instant. Her small daughter survives – and Ellen, hovering in the borderland between life and the afterlife, can only watch as her loved ones try to pick up the pieces without her. Her husband Marc, struggling with being a single parent. Naomi, her little girl, blaming her mother for leaving her. And Ellen’s mother, full of guilt, slowly falling apart. Ellen isn’t ready to let go. She doesn’t want to say goodbye. She is confused, angry and hurting for her family and herself. And that’s where George comes in. He is her guide through her confusion as she witnesses the devastation among the living. With George at her side Ellen learns that even though she is dead she is not helpless. There are things that she can do from beyond the grave to influence what happens in the world she left behind. But George is new to his ‘job’, and has issues of his own. A working arrangement starts to become something neither of them expects. It is only after death that life can be fully understood.
About the author:
Colette McCormick was born and raised in Sheffield but has made the North East her home for over 30 years. Writing is her love but her job is as a charity shop manager for a leading children’s charity. She has a husband, two sons and a daft dog.