Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Friday, April 01, 2011

Guest: Rebecca Dahlke

As a mystery writer, I was interested in Rebecca's newsletter, "All Mystery e-Newsletter" so I asked her to return and talk to us about her journey as a writer and the newsletter.

I'm glad she agreed because she also included some interesting tidbits that will be of interest to other authors trying to make a name for themselves in this increasingly competitive market.

R.P. Dahlke

You asked about my writing journey; Between work and raising a family, I’ve been writing off and on since I was a child. And then in 2004 I was thrilled to have my first mystery novel published. This first book based on my experiences running my family’s crop-dusting business south of Modesto, California in the ‘70’s was all I needed to spur me on to dig in and write!

Six months later, I was finishing my second in the Lalla Bains mystery series, when my forty year-old son died in a tragic accident flying a crop-duster. I thought I’d always write, but, as many of you who’ve also lost children already know, there is a season of purgatory for which there is no going around. It has to be dealt with. And so I did my time, stuffing my world with busy things, putting on a happy face for friends and family, but I could no longer write.

Then, five years to the day of my son’s death, I started writing again. Getting back in touch with my writing friends was wonderful, exhilarating, and a huge surprise. The magnitude of change in the publishing industry and how authors were promoting their work five, six years ago as opposed to today was like going from covered wagons to space ships. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and that newest, if somewhat puzzling buzzword—branding. (Sort of smacks of burning flesh from a red hot poker, doesn’t it?)

Still, I found all of it fascinating. I got a personal FACEBOOK page, gathering old friends and writers as I went. Most of my contemporaries were already miles ahead of me in this department, having a few thousand FB “friends” and writing their sixth or seventh books. Boy, how’s an author supposed to juggle all this new stuff and find the time to write books?

Then, because I needed to educate myself on Social Media for an art league I belong to, I attended a college workshop that included an introduction to Constant Contact which specializes in e-newsletter templates. I used this knowledge to wean the art association off the huge bucks we’d been spending a year for local newspaper ads, and instead, for a fraction of the cost, set them up with an e-newsletter. The organization now boasts a couple of spiffy new websites, a FACEBOOK page and, God help them… Twitter.

Because I knew I had to develop a platform and get myself some of that branding stuff, it was a natural progression to go from art league e-newsletter to what has become All Mystery! e-newsletter.

Like writing a book, I started with a premise: By now, I knew that websites can sit and gather dust in this fast-paced new world. Blog? Well, maybe. I didn’t want to review or sell books, or review or discuss books, either. I wanted to engage readers with a colorful and interactive page that came to their e-mail in-box offering them new books and new authors and a buy link to the author’s Amazon page where the reader could buy the hardcover or immediately down-load the e-book.

Out of these ideas I developed a fan based, free monthly e-newsletter that has grown from a few authors a month to ten-twelve mystery/suspense authors. I’m pleased to say that the readership is steadily growing and it’s less than a year old.

Now, although All Mystery e-newsletter is free to the authors, I do request that they forward their issue to ten or so of their fans, who can either sign up—or not. If not, they will never get another issue; so there are no worries about spamming. And, yes, this e-newsletter is also my platform developing a readership for my books, which answers the question as to whether my efforts are entirely altruistic.

Setting up All Mystery e-newsletter a year in advance of the publication of my first book has meant that I get a shot at increasing new readership of my books … just as all of the participating authors get to share in the readers that I brought to the newsletter.

A DEAD RED CADILLAC is now up on kindle and should be up on Amazon in trade paperback with that nifty “look inside” feature by the end of April. This book will be one of the featured books in the June issue of All Mystery e-newsletter Murder @ Work… and yes, it was a challenge to squeeze my books into an issue!

A DEAD RED HEART is the second in the Lalla Bains series, and it should be out on Kindle/Amazon by mid-April, then in trade paper back on Amazon with the “look inside” feature by end of May. This book will be one of the featured books in the October issue of All Mystery e-newsletter Murder @ Work

You asked where I got my idea for A DEAD RED HEART. I get my ideas from newspaper stores, and this one was a doozy: A prisoner who got a heart transplant… which led me to the question: What would you do if your loved one lost their chance at a heart transplant because the donor heart went to a convicted felon in a California prison?

There are first chapters on the website:
You can see samples of All Mystery! e-newsletter and sign up to get more at: or contact me:


1 comment:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Rebecca, loved hearing all this--though I already knew a lot. I'm one of the people Rebecca reunited with recently and I'm so happy she did.