April 20, 2012

Made It Moment: RP Dahlke

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:36 am

A Dead Red Cadillac

In this writing life, sometimes life interferes. R.P. Dahlke suffered a tragedy that sent her work into a tailspin. When she was finally able to stand up, it was 2010, and the world had changed. The writing world anyway. Read on to see what the advent of independent publishing has meant to R.P.’s career. It’s a lesson in second chances. It’s proof that in this writing life, life also restores.

RP Dahlke

I had been writing for over thirty years when in 2005 my son, a career Ag pilot, died in a work related accident, and with his death went my muse as well as my energy for writing. Then, in 2010, I let out the breath I’d been holding for all this time and started to write again. I relate this not to curry sympathy, but to explain how I managed to stay so isolated from the community of writers that I loved.

And what a change it’s been for authors. For someone like me, out of the business for five years, it was like going from covered wagons to space shuttles! Facebook, Twitter, blogs and, best of all, Amazon who very smartly got into the business of selling and promoting Indie authors.

I grabbed onto the tail of that great beast and nothing has been the same since. The ride has taken me on a giddy roller coaster as one of the top 100 at Amazon for my series featuring a NY model turned Aero-Ag pilot. Yeah, up, down, and—oops, there it goes up again. And, wonder of wonders, I’m making money—golly, and to think I would’ve done this for free just to have readers tell me how they love reading my books. And, for me, that’s everything… readers! Nothing tells me I’ve made it like having readers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving back the money. It pays for my smart editor and those spiffy new book covers, but now I don’t have to wait on an agent or a publisher. The readers who buy my books tell me I have a reason to write the next book, and the next, and the next.

RP, AKA Rebecca Dahlke 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.

She was doing the rewrite on her second Lalla Baines Novel, A Dead Red Heart when her son, John Shanahan, died in a tragic crop dusting accident in California. Writing about anything, much less crop-dusting became too painful and she stopped writing until 2010.


  1. Thanks Jenny for hosting me today on your terrific blog! FYI: if any Sisters in Crime members out there live in or around Tucson, AZ,we now have a vibrant new chapter: http://tucsonsistersincrime.org

    Comment by RP Dahlke — April 20, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  2. So sorry for your loss RP. It’s so hard to imagine losing a child. But I’m glad you eventually came back to writing and it sounds like you’re doing great with it. Wishing you much continued success.

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks to Jenny for bringing you to us.

    Comment by mountainmama — April 20, 2012 @ 10:59 am

  3. I’m so sorry about your son; losing a child must be one of the hardest things ever. But I’m glad to hear of your novel writing success, and that you’re doing it indie. :)

    Comment by Judy — April 20, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  4. Ah, Rebecca, I remember when that horrible tragedy struck. You and I exchanged many emails back then. I’m so glad you’re writing again.

    Comment by Marilyn Meredith — April 20, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  5. Rebecca,

    First, let me say I’m sorry for your loss. I, too, went through a period of loss, and although I tried to keep writing, I couldn’t string words together in a coherent sentence. What worked for me was giving myself permission not to write. Once I made that decision, I no longer felt guilty for not writing. Eventually, my passion for writing returned, but like you said, things had changed while I was away. So I reinvented myself as an indie author and I’m loving it. Good luck with your books, and treasure the memories.

    Comment by Nancy Morse — April 20, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  6. Rebecca,
    I’m so sorry that you lost your son. I’m glad you were able to come back to writing and make a success of it. And thank you for creating the All Mystery Newsletter. I certainly appreciate being part of the group.

    Comment by Marilyn Levinson — April 20, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  7. Rebecca, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I can only imagine your loss. Like everyone else, of course, I am thrilled you returned to writing. I’m just beginning A Dangerous Harbor!

    Comment by Anne K. Albert — April 20, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  8. I can’t even imagine losing a child. You are so brave to come roaring back and with such success. I’m certain that somewhere your son is very, very proud of you.

    Comment by Alison DeLuca — April 20, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  9. Rebecca, I am happy to see the results of ‘grabbing the tail’ and how far you are taking it. I am a big fan of your books, your online presence and your artwork. Keep up the great writing. I will keep up with you online if not locally. Your friend, Sherry

    Comment by Sherry Harig — April 20, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  10. Rebecca, your strength in the face of your loss is inspirational. I am absolutely going to pick up your book because I want to see what this incredibly strong woman has to say!

    Comment by Johanna — April 20, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

  11. Rebecca,
    First, I’m so sad to hear of your tragic loss of your beloved son. Just hearing it knocks the breath right out of me. But, your perserverance and willingness to honor your son by moving forward–with great success!–is a testament to your character. Bravo! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Comment by JoAnn Bassett (Haberer) — April 20, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I admire your courage and strength, and I know you will be helping others with your story.

    Great post. Off to share.

    Comment by Sandy Wolters — April 20, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

  13. RP, so sorry for your loss. Always remember that he is always with you even though you can’t see him. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Very glad you are writing again. Congrats on your success thus far and
    In the future

    Comment by Kellie — April 20, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  14. Thanks for sharing your loss with us Rebecca. It had to have been a very hard blow for you. I’m glad you were able to make a comeback to writing, because you’re so terrific at it!

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — April 20, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  15. Great blog, author and post. Sorry for your loss, Rebecca, but am glad to see you’ve overcome such sorrow.

    Comment by Gerrie Ferris Finger — April 21, 2012 @ 9:09 am

  16. John would be so proud of you, Rebecca, for your success.
    What others on this group might not have gotten to see is Rebecca in her spiffy pink flight suit! How about a pic, Rebecca?

    Comment by Jinx Schwartz — April 21, 2012 @ 10:28 am

  17. Rebecca, I’ve been following your gangbuster progress for almost 3 years. You are a true inspiration and have helped me with the new trends in publishing in so many ways.
    I’m proud of you!
    Thanks, Jenny, for hosting such a wonderful writer and incredible woman.

    Comment by Kathleen Kaska — April 21, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  18. Losing a child is about the worst thing that can happen. So glad to know that you are writing again. Wishing you every success.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — April 23, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  19. Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. I, for one, am glad you found your way back. Writing can be cathartic in releasing emotions you can’t or won’t expose in reality. It’s also a marvelous distraction. Your love of life shows in your books. I can’t wait to meet you someday.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — April 24, 2012 @ 10:52 am

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