Author Q&A: Mystery & Crime Author Rodeo Carlson

About Rodeo Carlson: After the military, Rodeo was attracted to strange, whimsical jobs but also held positions in disaster recovery, teaching, curriculum design and magazine writing. She even operated a coffee cart at Seattle Seahawks games, and to this day can make an Americano with velvet-smooth crema riding on top.

College had always been an intention and Rodeo followed through by earning both a B.A. and M.B.A. Though after a time in the corporate sector, Rodeo became frustrated by the confinement of her cubicle, office politics and the trouble her point of views caused.

These things she traded for her unglamorous life as an author, "It's the most befitting profession", she says, "I work without shoes, wear all kinds of hats and inspire underdogs to attain a terrific comeback."

Author Rodeo Carlson is stopping by the blog today to talk about her books and share some tips for authors. 

Deborah Bailey: Thanks for joining me today! A lot of authors don't write in only one genre, is the same true for you? 

Rodeo Carlson: Glad to be here, Deb! I write short stories and to date each has been in the Mystery, Crime, Thriller and Suspense genre with some overlap. For instance, Housekeeper Killer is primarily a mystery because the killer remains a secret until the end. But with Mavis Is Dead, there's mix of all four genres. My editor, Kirby says, "It's an effectively jarring, psychological shift for the reader and also reflects the indifferent mentality of a person capable of committing such a crime so off-handedly." She's tough, so I took her comment as a complement for me being able to get readers inside the killer's mind.

Deborah: What inspired you to come up with the ideas for your books?

Rodeo: Housekeeper Killer resulted from experiencing the murder of my mother, who in real life worked as a housekeeper. The brutality of the murder was particularly difficult to deal with. In order to work through what I believe was PTSD and anxiety, I wrote a story.

The other stories were also inspired from bits and pieces of my personal life as well as from everyday people whose courage and resilience go unnoticed. For instance domestic violence, alcoholism, the isolation and ridicule gender identification causes are some of the challenges my characters come up against. How they cope and go about solving their problems is where murder and mayhem comes in.

Deborah: Wow, that's incredibly intense. It's an understatement to say that writing can be cathartic. What's your writing routine?

Rodeo: Rise at 5:55. That's partly my thing for numbers and partly because by that time The Teacher has gotten his bathroom business out of the way. Several minutes of affirmation and prayer take place first thing. Afterwards I go for a run, to the gym-it all depends, but I'm diligent about exercising for at least 45 minutes.

Back at the home office, I do an hour of CD (career development). This involves reading stuff about marketing, publishing, e-commerce and writing. Next, I open my Success Plan. Really, it's just an Excel spread sheet that list very specific goals and what steps I need to take to accomplish them. This routine works because:

1) It prevents me from neglecting things that are important to me and that if not done could actually have negative impacts on my work.

2) Focus is given to things only of highest priority. Then when I go off grid-which I do, I jump back into productive mode and things snap into place.

Deborah: That's terrific. Self-discipline is the key to getting things done. Since you have such a great system for your work, what tips do you have for book marketing?

Rodeo: I have four book marketing tips, including:

1)     Know your audiences BEFORE you write the story. This actually makes story development much easier because you feel like you're engaging with the reader the whole time, writing about situations that they might be having. Also when you've identified your market before you've written the story you have a clearer direction of what marketing activities will make the best sense, you know what to say in those marketing messages and how to say it because all along you've kept your target audience in mind.

2)    Focus on 2 or 3 marketing activities (and no more than that!) Do these things repeatedly for a few months because by then they'll have either gained traction or indicated they're a waste of time. My Success Plan helps me identify my marketing activities and track how they're performing.

3)    Align your marketing activities with things that you find fun and feel good about. If you hate Facebook don't bother with it, otherwise you really won't do it the way it needs to be done in order to be effective.

4)    Have a website and put your website's address on everything, even your phone greeting! Also, on your site, make sure there are elements that help readers get to know the real you. Readers are just like customers and will buy books from authors they feel they know.

Deborah: Any tips to share with aspiring authors?

Rodeo: Yes, have an editorial calendar for each book or story. If anything adds more time to my day, it's my editorial calendar. I use it to plan blog posts, identify specific keyword phrases, and identify other places and ways to use my website content. Feel free to download the editorial calendar I use.

Also, you've got to allow yourself temporary spells of insanity. Seriously. During these times, take notes. When you return back to whatever feels like your regular normal, you'll have come up with the perfect character flaw, real-life sounding dialogues, and scenes that you can imagine as a movie clip.

The final thing is this: Treat your writing as a business. This is both an attitude and a practice that in the long run will help you bring more value to your readers and more rewards to you as an author.

Learn more about Rodeo Carlson and her books and classes here:

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