Buckeye Crime Member Eileen Curley Hammond just released the fourth book in her Merry March Mystery series, Murder So Deadly. Board member Kandy Williams chatted with her recently.
KW: You’ve released four books in just over a year. How did you do it?
ECH: It’s not quite as fast as it seems. I worked on the first one for over a year, and then started on the second one. As it turned out, I was editing the first one when the second one was nearly done. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way, the advantage was that I could still change something in the first book when it made the second one better. I released Murder So Sinful in August of 2018 and Murder So Festive in October last year. In hindsight, that was too close, and I hindered my ability to launch my debut book. Unfortunately, the second book takes place at Christmas, so to capture those sales I needed to publish by October.
KW: You’re an independent author. Why did you decide to pursue that path versus traditional publishing?
ECH: Everyone’s path is different. I’m slightly north of 60 and a cancer survivor. I decided I would rather spend my time writing, than going through the long process associated with traditional publishing. I’m also a bit of a control freak, so being independent suits me.
KW: Have you had any surprises along the way?
ECH: I learn something new every day. Joining Buckeye Crime Writers was one of the smarter things I’ve done. This group continues to be an important touchstone in many ways, especially for a new writer. First, the speakers at the monthly meetings are great. I’m using what I learned from Franklin County Chief Toxicologist Dan Baker in my latest book. Second, the connections you make at the meetings with other members are invaluable. I always walk away with new ideas.
One big surprise (which shouldn’t have been) is how much work an independent author does that isn’t related to writing. I had to find someone to do my covers, contract with an editor, and design the inside of the book. The good news was that Amazon has a relatively good add on to Word, which makes the inside design work more manageable. It’s not perfect and has some hiccups, but I think the result is quite professional.
Marketing is always a challenge, but traditionally published authors have some of the same issues.
KW: Are you a planner, or a pantser?
ECH: I’m a pantser. I look at planners’ outlines and plans with envy. I never have any idea what’s going to happen. I follow Stephen King’s advice. I write at least 1,000 words a day Monday through Friday. Sometimes it’s agony, other times it’s quick. Before I adopted this habit, I had trouble balancing my life. When I was writing, I felt guilty for not doing other things. If I did the wash, I felt guilty for not writing. Now I know if I complete my 1,000 words I’m done with writing for the day.
KW: Tell us a little about your book.
ECH: The main character is Meredith March. She owns a property and casualty insurance operation in the small town of Hopeful. Merry is divorced and has custody of her 17-year-old daughter. Her ex ran a financial scam that duped many of the people living in town. He was convicted and served four years in jail. Merry now has a serious boyfriend and is working on getting an annulment.
In my latest book, Merry and her friend Patty go on a stakeout. Here’s an excerpt from Murder So Deadly:
“I shouldn’t have had that extra glass of water at dinner,” Patty said. “How much longer are we going to be here?”
“Wimp. There’s a bathroom past the front desk. I’m sure if you ask nicely, they’ll let you use it.”
Patty eased open the door while I covered the car light with my purse.
I hissed, “Hurry back.”
She scurried to the door, pushed it open, and passed the two men we were supposed to be following. Patty disappeared into the motel. The two men walked to a large black Lincoln and slid in. The car purred as it passed me moving toward the exit. I stared daggers at the motel door. “C’mon Patty. Where the heck are you?”
She darted out the door, running full tilt toward the car. I pulled up next to her. “Get in.” Patty jumped into the car, and I floored it. “Didn’t you see them come out?”
“Of course. They held the door for me.”
“I’m happy they still have their manners…”
KW: You sound busy. Is there anything else going on?
ECH: I’ve become an active member of Twitter’s Writing Community. One of the fun things to do is VSS365 (Very Short Story). The moderator sends out a daily word prompt, and the challenge is to write a 280-character poem or story that includes that word. A curated book of the best writings was just released called VSS365 Anthology, and I’m proud to say that one of my stories was chosen. All proceeds from the sale of the book benefit a children’s literacy charity called The Book Bus.
KW: How do we get Murder So Deadly?
ECH: Thanks for asking. Just click on the link: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-So-Deadly-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07WHT5PN9/.