Welcome Back Author Kate Flora and a #giveaway

by Barb, who handed in her book, then the sun came out and it’s a Maine summer!

Please welcome back to the blog Friend of the Wickeds, Kate Flora! All six of us have known Kate for a long time. She’s had some influence on every one of us, large and small. Kate’s here today in support of her new novel of domestic suspense, Teach Her a Lesson. The This book isn’t a cozy, but I’ve assured Kate that many of our followers read more widely, particularly in the various crime fiction genres.

Take it away, Kate!

You’ll Need the Hide of an Alligator

Back when I used to teach writing, my favorite class was one I called, “I’ve Always Wanted to Write, But . . .” It was a class derived from my own experience and the experience of many others who dreamed of writing but who had somewhere along the way been discouraged by a writing teacher or a series of rejections and given up. It was a class in which I stuck bandages on their wounds and helped my students rediscover their love of writing and their individual voices.

We’ve all had the experience of someone saying, “I’ve always wanted to write a book and sometime when I have a free weekend I’m going to write one.” This overlooks the fact that writing is hard, sometimes brutally hard. There will be days when it will feel like you’re crawling over gravel or stripping off your skin. But real writers keep at it. We may take some time to huddle in a corner, licking our wounds, but we come out and crawl back to the keyboard and go on writing because we’re writers and this is what we do.

That hide of the alligator thing? I spent ten years in the unpublished writer’s corner, eight before I sold my first book, Chosen for Death, and two more years before it was published. Even when the writing was going well, sending out the manuscript time after time, only to get rejections or silence, was awful. Getting back my sample chapters with coffee stains and a penciled “no thanks” hurt. So did getting back a manuscript with a sticky note from one reader to another which said, “this is crap.” I evolved my own mantra to help me survive which I have since shared with my students: Only YOU get to decide that you are a writer.

Yes, we have to write the best books we can. Yes, with today’s dearth of editing it makes sense to hire a good private editor to make your book the best it can be. And yes, one of the best pieces of advice I can give an aspiring writer is to believe in yourself but expect to need the hide of an alligator to survive the publishing process. In the midst of all that, it is hard not to lose sight of the joy of writing. We have to cling to that, relish it, remain stubbornly optimistic in the face of all the discouragement.

I write this because at the end of May, Encircle Publications published a book I have worked on and believed in for more than twelve years, Teach Her a Lesson. I could probably fill a filing cabinet with all of the different iterations of this book. Different point of view characters have come and gone. Hundreds of pages have landed on the cutting room floor. I have used not one but two different editors. One to make it more of a fast-paced thriller. One to help me revise when editors didn’t find the central character appealing.

It would have been easier to simply give up, shove the book in a drawer, and move on. Sometimes I did. But I was really hooked on the story—one torn from the headlines—of a teacher wrongly accused of an affair with one of her students when it was the student who was the bad actor. He seemed so plausible, and some of her innocent actions made her look so guilty she almost doubted herself. She understood that nothing would satisfy him except to destroy her but no one would believe her.

Perhaps my more than a decade long struggle with this book demonstrates something other writers need to know: you have to believe in yourself and in your writing. No one is ever going to ring your doorbell and demand the right to publish your book. The work has to come from you. But never let them convince you that you aren’t a writer, because that also has to come from you.

Write on!

Readers: Is it plausible that a sixteen-year-old could be evil and manipulative enough to want to destroy his teacher?

About Teach Her a Lesson

What do you do when you’re accused of an unspeakable crime and know you’re innocent, but the evidence against you is so compelling? After six years as a high school English teacher, Alexis Jordan thinks her biggest problems are a case of burnout and her suspicion that her husband is having an affair.

Then things take a sudden, unexpected turn that threatens to end her marriage, wreck her career, and destroy her life when the student she’s coaching for the school play makes a pass at her and she turns him down. Alexis doesn’t realize that he is obsessed with her and has been building toward this moment for months. Nor that when he’s rejected, he will set out to destroy her with his version of their “affair”—which is terrifyingly plausible.

About Kate Flora

Kate Flora’s twenty-six books include crime fiction, true crime, short stories, memoir, and nonfiction. A finalist for the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Derringer awards, she won the Public Safety Writers Association award for nonfiction and the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction. She’s a founder of the New England Crime Bake and the Maine Crime Wave. She blogs with the Maine Crime Writers. www.kateclarkflora.com

36 Thoughts

  1. I do believe some kids are born evil, or it could be nurture vs nature. There is a case here in FL of a teen that killed his teacher because of a bad grade. Now he is on death row.

    1. One thing I did when working on this book was talk to psychologists and high school guidance counselors about the boy’s family and how it could shape his character.

  2. Congratulations on your years of persistence and on the new book, Kate! I haven’t gotten to it yet, but it’s waiting on my kindle.

    1. I was thrilled that you liked it, Dru Ann, as it isn’t your usual reading fare. Your support has always meant to much.

  3. Definitely! I can certainly see that happening. I hope the truth prevailed and the teacher was found innocent!

  4. Kate, congratulations on the new book. I have a copy and it is in my stack of “read this ASAP” books.

    As for the question of can 16-year-olds be evil. I know people would like to believe otherwise but the truth is absolutely. I just read a news article in the last few days about two teenagers who killed their teacher because she gave one of them a bad grade. So yes, they can be evil.

  5. yes i do. well let me rephrase that as i am not sure so much that they (or most anyone is truly evil at their base) but i do think 16 year olds can do really evil things.

  6. WOW! “Teach Her a Lesson” sounds absolutely amazing! I have now added it to my TBR list and can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.

    Love your advice and I also think it applies to any passion one has. You have to envision it so and then strive to make it so – never giving up to doubt or other’s opinions.

    Yes, I can see it happening. All one has to do is flip the channel to any news channel or read a paper to see how crime and misdeeds are done by every age bracket or social standing. Honestly don’t know if it’s more wide spread now days or if it’s now considered news worthy, but cases like this unfortunately seem to be more often now.

    Not on this scale or of this nature, but I can sympathize with having to prove your innocence. Mine was having to prove the guilt of action from the one accused to the rightful person. It’s extremely hard and both time consuming and emotionally draining – especially when they party accused did NOT do it.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. Congratulations, Kate. “Hide of an alligator” indeed. Wise words.

    Yes, I think a 16-year-old can be manipulative enough to be a villain. Especially if he’s grown up in an environment that nurtures a callousness and sense of entitlement.

  8. Great post, Kate. And I love the term alligator skin — so true. We write because we can’t imagine not writing, and if I had a dollar for every time someone said “I’ve always wanted to write a book” or some version of that, I’d be buying a chateau in France! As for 16-year-olds – I think that is THE age when even “good” kids can be evil. Raging hormones, the lack of maturity to understand actions and reactions and the long term consequences. Add unrequited love into the mix — definitely. Good luck with your book.

    1. Thank you, Judy. Times have definitely changed. And I, too, could buy that chateau in France. I’d like to respond that I’ve always wanted to do brain surgery, and sometime when i have a free weekend ….

  9. It’s very plausible to me that a 16 year old could be manipulative enough to want to destroy his teacher. There are some humans who are born without conscience. Congratulations on the release of this story and thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!

  10. Great post, Kate – Skin of an Alligator – perfect term! Congratulations on your latest.

    A skim of the news confirms that 16-year-olds can be deadly, manipulative, cold-blooded killers. Sad, and frightening.

  11. Congratulations! This story is real. Much of what I read online relates to this. It is scary and unbelievable.

  12. Without conscience or scruples this happens. No matter the age. It is frightening to see this happen. When I was young I had never heard of things like this.

  13. There have been stories like that in the news, so it is completely plausible. Congrats on the book, especially after working on it for so long! (No need the enter me in the giveaway.)

  14. Thank heavens you have that tough hide and didn’t give up, Kate! Like Barb said, you’re an inspiration to all of us and generous with your advice. The book sound fantastic! I remember at one Crime Bake an arson investigator spoke. He asked, “What group lies the most?” I immediately though teenagers and that was the right answer.

  15. Yes I believe that a 16 y.o. can be evil…I saw the original movie of “The Bad Seed” way back in the day…

  16. Yes a 16 year old can and also with all of the school shootings that have been going on in the last few years and also increase it is happening now. When I was growing up and was not in the best neighborhoods we still did not worry about a student or teacher being killed.

  17. These days, I would have to say yes. There are some really good kids out there, but there are also some really evil kids out there too.

  18. Yes I believe a 16 year old could be evil enough to kill a teacher in cold blood. Unfortunately that is what has been happening in schools all around the US and I am glad that my children are grown and did not go through that but nowadays parents are worried if they send their child to school will they be safe and will this be the last time they see that child.

  19. Unfortunately yes. We have heard about it on the news too many times with school shootings. There was the kindergardener who shot his teacher.

  20. Kate, your message is one that I needed to hear, thank you! And congratulations on the book. I look forward to reading it. What an interesting premise, one that has remained current even though time has passed.

  21. It’s a terrifying and brilliant book, with lessons on how NOT to raise a child . . . and made me glad to be retired.
    Your writing class description reminded me of a COCA class, “Singing for People Who’ve Been Asked Not To” which began with, “Who made you feel you shouldn’t sing?” Moving past the roadblocks led to working on skills.

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