Some readers like religious stories.
Others enjoy a good mystery.
Still others might be drawn to a tale of light romance.
All of them would find something in Dede Hammond’s newest book.
The Zephyrhills’ resident published “Open the Door to One Short Story After Another” late last year.
The book is a collection of diverse stories. Instead of picking one genre and filling the pages with a collection of similar stories, she has allowed different types of tales to be part of her latest work.
For Hammond, 76, writing has been a way to be creative since she was 10 years old.
“My dad said I had a vast imagination, so I figured I’d better use it,” she said.
That imagination led to her short story collection, as well as her first book, 2013’s “With the Best of Intentions.”
Neither book was done to fill a need to be a published author. Hammond was a feature writer for a newspaper in New York, before she retired to Florida.
She wrote the book because she wanted to put her stories in one place for her children, rather than them having to dig through her filing cabinets to read them.
“Julie (her daughter) always wanted to have the stories, and she thought I’d just put it on a disk,” Hammond explained. “I thought, she doesn’t want that file in there full of stories when I pass on. And so I thought I’d just put them in a book.”
As a result, she self-published “With the Best of Intentions” on Amazon, where it’s available as a physical book and in their Kindle e-book format. “Open the Door” is also available on Amazon in physical book format. And, there’s enough unpublished material for at least one more book.
And that’s even if she didn’t write anything else.
But she’s still writing.
In fact, Hammond runs a regular writing group that includes people who are working on biographies and other types of stories.
One of the regulars is her husband of 28 years, Gordon. He’s published his own collection of essays that blend humor and political views. He’s a fan of his wife’s stories, and prefers one genre in particular.
“I like the mystery stories that she writes. They have an ‘O. Henry’ ending,” he said, referring to the turn-of-the-century author known for his surprise endings.
Although “Open the Door” contains different types of stories, they do have some things in common: None of them have cursing or explicit adult content. Hammond likes to create what she calls “safe” stories that keep the reader engaged with interesting plots and perhaps an unexpected twist at the end, but are safe for just about anyone to read.
Many of the stories were originally printed in magazines, and many are a testament to the author’s persistence.
“I sent 23 to Woman’s World before the 24th one was accepted,” she recalls.
Now there are plenty of “safe” stories for the Hammonds and their four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren to enjoy. And with a growing collection of stories and several still unpublished, there should be more to come.
“I like to share the stories with people, to tell you the truth,” Hammond said. “I never thought about making money. That wasn’t the point.”
For more information about “Open the Door to One Short Story After Another” and “With the Best of Intentions,” visit Amazon.com and search “Dede Hammond.”
Published April 15, 2015