RP Dahlke On Writer’s Groups And Building A Long-Term Career

dahlkeName: Rebecca Dahlke
Author’s Website:
Hometown: I spent most of my youth on a crop-dusting farm in Ceres, California. This is a small town south of Modesto in the San Joaquin Valley of California
Current Residence: Hereford, Arizona, and another small town, this one south of Tucson, AZ and three miles from the Mexican border—I’m still trying to figure out how that happened?
Education: College/nursing, which was a total waste of my parent’s money, as I knew from the get-go this wasn’t going to be my life’s work.
Briefly: I’m a member of the Tucson Chapter of Sister’s in Crime. I started All Mystery Newsletter in 2010 as a way to promote mystery writers. As of today’s date, I’ve closed the newsletter, so that I could devote my time to writing, but I still have three groups and they are self-serve promotion.
Favorite Read: Funny, clever, smartly done mysteries
Pet Peeves: Peeves make terrible pets so I refuse to have one
If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…You know how when you ask an actor if they’d recommend theater as a career and they always say, “Pick something else?” Ever wonder why that’s never the answer from a writer? Probably because this is our dream job. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do!
What You Have Lined Up Next: I just finished the sequel to A Dangerous Harbor, and Hurricane Hole will go up on Amazon mid-October. Then I will start my 4th in the Dead Red Series. I will be at the Tucson Festival of Books, and Left Coast Crime, Monterey, in 2014

When you were a little girl, what impression did you have of writers?

I was absolutely awed at the writers’ ability to transport me into another world, and then I wanted to know–how did they do it, and how could I do it?

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So, you were part of a writing group in the East Bay area. Do you think that helped shape your writing?

I was very grateful that Penny Warner gave me the opportunity to be part of this critique group. They were all mystery writers, and I knew nothing about writing mysteries—only that I wanted to write mysteries.

RP Dahlke versus Rebecca Dahlke. What would you say is the difference between the two?

I write as RP Dahlke-not much of a shift, but it’s easier to remember than Rebecca Phillips Dahlke

A Dead Red Cadillac was inspired by real-life events?

Well, certainly some of it was. I ran my father’s crop-dusting business for a short time and came out of that experience with plenty for the books. As for A Dead Red Cadillac, the main plot, using airplanes to transport drugs, is a known fact, and crop-dusters with their ability to carry a heavy payload are perfect for the task. However, finding a pilot greedy, or stupid enough, to risk his or her career for this sort of thing is, thankfully rare.

Speaking of that book, do you generally give titles to your book after they’re completed, or prior to writing them, or even while you’re writing them?

I title each book at its inception, because when I actually put my fingers to the keyboard to write the first chapter, I’ve already sketched out the story. In A Dead Red Cadillac, the reader may think that the caddy in the lake is unrelated to the crime, but it is connected, and through a convoluted story of a twenty-year old unsolved murder.

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What do you enjoy most about being an author?

Writing is generally a solitary event and I’m an extrovert–seems like a bit of a dichotomy, doesn’t it? But I get my people fix from social media as well as our chapter of Sisters in Crime in Tucson, AZ. This is the best organization for published, as well as aspiring authors and fans of mystery, in the U.S. today. I also love writer workshops because I learn something new every time. I love fan conferences because I make new friends, and meet up with old friends as well. And most of all, I love hearing from readers who take the time to leave a nice review up on Amazon. Every week or so, I go to the book pages and thank the ones who’ve taken the time to leave nice reviews. After all, they have busy lives too. And a good review, no matter how short, just might convince the next reader to take a chance on one of my books.

Hindsight! What are some of the things you wish you had known before publishing your first book?

I don’t even want to think about when I got my first book published. God bless small press publishers, but the minute I learned that Amazon allowed authors to put up their books for sale, I was on it! I could never have the personal and direct interaction with readers I have now when I was with a publisher.

You build your career as an author from the ground up. What tips do you have for authors on building a long-term career?

It is a long-term career, and yes, sales can skyrocket when you have a new release, or win an award, or do a promotion, but it’s building a relationship with your readers who will buy your next book that is important.

How important is internet, from your experience, in the promotion of a book?

Very. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, promotion sites, both paid and free, and last but not least, the bloggers who will invite you to share your story with their readers. I have a free PDF on the subject of promotion for any author who wants it. It’s seven pages of ideas that have worked for me, with plenty of ideas on both free and paid promotion, and the best way to get reviews.

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