RP was raised on her father’s 80 acres of Almonds & crop dusting ranch south of Modesto, California. She’s been writing since 1994, first with a writing group in the East Bay Area and then when she and her husband went sailing, via the Guppies of Sisters in Crime, National. When they settled in Southern Arizona, Rebecca started a chapter of Sisters in Crime and A Dead Red Cadillac was published by Treble Heart Publishing.
Rebecca, how would you describe your Lalla Baines series?
Murder mysteries with some laughter.
You ran your father’s crop dusting company in California during the 1980s? Did you fly or serve as CEO? Or both.
I sort of fell into the job when my dad decided he’d rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers and horrific hours. After two years at the helm, I handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, I was never a crop-duster.
Tell us about your writing background.
A few short stories got printed in a now defunct magazine and I was hooked. They say you should write what you know and at the time, I was able to use what I’d gleaned from my own experiences along with stories my son, John, who was a career crop-duster shared with me. When he died in a work related accident in 2005, I was unable to go back to it until 2010.
How important are organizations such as Sisters in Crime to a mid-list mystery writer?
SinC is like a big fat favorite granny. She’s warm and comforting and tells you you’re wonderful when everyone else tells you your writing is crap!
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you aim for a certain amount of words per day and do you outline?
Well… if I’m very very good, I can smack out 2,000 words a day… but then life gets in the way… like the Monument Fire this last week, and we were evacuated and living in our RV with two dogs and I was eating on nerves about our home burning to the ground instead of writing. I’m happy to say that the house survived and so did we!
What’s the most important ingredient in a good amateur sleuth novel?
Between a philandering famous Puerto Rican baseball husband and her long time widowed father’s triple by-pass, Lalla is now content to run her dad’s crop-dusting business in Modesto, California and avoid the paparazzi hounds who feast on the remains of those who aren’t famous anymore.
In A DEAD RED CADILLAC Lalla is once again brought into unwanted limelight and as she sees it, the only way she’s ever going to get her life back is if she can solve the mystery . And, as luck would have it, along the way finds the man who becomes the love of her life.
How do you promote your books? And how much time to you devote to online networking?
I believe that authors MUST use as many avenues as possible to promote their work. Branding is a term that comes from major corporations, like Pepsi and Ford and these companies understand that one ad in one magazine is not necessarily going to equal one sale. Your name over and over again, along with the name of your series; like A DEAD RED CADILLAC and A DEAD RED HEART gives you an edge on that branding.
Seeing a grave disparity between what is available to Indy authors as opposed to traditionally published authors, I created All Mystery e-Newsletter. July, 2011 is our first year anniversary and I’m pleased to say this is one of the fastest growing e-newsletters in the US. It’s clean, simple and easy to navigate: 12 new books from Indy as well as NY published authors. A colorful book cover, a quick synopsis, a few reviews and a buy button to Amazon for the e-book or paper back. Each month is themed: Romantic mysteries/suspense for Valentine’s day, Paranormal mysteries, The Funny Bone issue, Historical Mysteries, Murder at Work and ending the year with Cozies for Christmas—there’s something for everyone and I make sure that the Indy authors get a chance at the same exposure as say, Catherine Coulter and her newest Sherlock book… yes! Catherine and her publicist see the advantage of fan based venues like this and so should you.
It’s been a giggle to have to squeeze my own books into the line-up, but I enjoy doing it. I’ve recently expanded All Mystery to include a yahoo group so that fans can ask questions and authors can promote themselves with news about book signings, events & new offers.
Advice to aspiring mystery writers?
Self-publish because it encourages you to write instead of pinning all your hopes on that NY publisher. Besides, the more you write the better you get. And you’re branding your name, developing a fan base. Who knows, you may get an offer from that NY publisher—which you can then accept or not. Which reminds me; I gotta get busy and finish my latest book, a romantic sailing mystery set in exotic Mexico. I hope to have A DANGEROUS HARBOR ready for publication by the end of this summer.
You can visit Rebecca at her website: http://www.rpdahlke.com/
Her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RPDahlke
Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/6l8y7gm
B&N page: http://tinyurl.com/6bldn9u