April 12, 2012

Made It Moment: Kate Flora

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:12 pm


I have begun to suspect something, and author Kate Flora may have just pushed me over into the territory of the confirmed. It really does take ten years–one way or another–to become writers worthy of being read.

Some of us spend that time writing. Or getting ready to write. Some querying. Some on submission. Some holed up at editorial (me! me). In the future, some may spend it releasing books themselves and slowly building a readership as they hone their craft.

But in many, many cases it takes ten years, give or take, to write the book you were born to. And…then what happens? Some mighty great things, as Kate will also tell you.

Kate Flora

How Did I Know I’d Made It?

A question that, initially, we all tend to answer the same way—I haven’t yet. But the more nuanced answer is this.

I spent ten years in the unpublished writer’s corner, a place many of us have dwelled for years, and then I got a three-book, hard-soft deal and thought I was on my way. I got another contract in that series. That was followed by a big book sale of a stand-alone suspense novel, Steal Away, written under the pseudonym, Katharine Clark. I had one crazy year when I had two books out, from two different publishers, under two names, at the same time. I would set up events for both of us, and just switch from one chair to another and put on a hat on my book tour.

The big book did not earn out. My publisher dropped my series. I debated whether to go and play in traffic. Instead, I joined a pair of other mystery writers in forming a publishing consortium to edit and publish yearly anthologies of crime stories by New England authors. I dared myself to take a chance on writing police procedurals. I spent two and a half years helping a police detective friend write a true crime, Finding Amy.

How did I know I’d made it? When taking chances made me richer, in satisfaction and giving back to others in the mystery field, than my previous work ever had. When I was able to let go of my envy of other writers who were doing better, and instead celebrated their accomplishments while enjoying my own. When a whole Maine county chose my book to be their community read, I was a finalist for the Maine book award, and I woke one morning to find that cop and I had been nominated for an Edgar.

Attorney Kate Flora’s twelve books include seven Thea Kozak mysteries, two gritty police procedurals including The Angel of Knowlton Park, a suspense thriller, Steal Away, written as Katharine Clark, and a true crime, Finding Amy, which was a 2007 Edgar nominee and has been optioned for a movie. Her current projects include Death Dealer, a true crime involving a Canadian serial killer, a screenplay, and a novel in linked stories. Flora’s short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including theSara Paretsky edited collection, Sisters on the Case. She is a former editor and publisher at Level Best books, former international president of Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake conference. Her story, “All that Glitters” appears in Dead Calm, and her story, “Bone China” in the crime story anthology Dead of Winter. Her third Joe Burgess police procedural, Redemption, was published in March 2012.


  1. I don’t know about the ten year figure. I’ve only been at it for a year and a half, and I have one published novel, and a second half written. You might say that my first isn’t worthy of being read, and perhaps your right, if you were only talking about yourself. But thus far, my target audience has been giving it good reviews.

    Congrats to Kate for Making It. :) It’s such a great feeling.

    Comment by Thomas A. Knight — April 12, 2012 @ 10:33 pm

  2. You’ve certainly paid your dues, Kate. You’re still at it, though. I wouldn’t expect less of you!

    Comment by kaye george — April 12, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  3. What did you mean, Thomas, about if I were talking about myself? I have THE TIME WEAVER creeping up my ever extensive stack, and can’t wait to get to it! I fully expect to have the same response as your reviewers :)

    I think the question as Kaye says is, what about those dues? How long do we have to pay them for?

    Thomas, you may be one of the exceptions I mentioned in my intro…

    Comment by jenny — April 12, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

  4. My first comment was in reference to how far outside of your typical reading material THE TIME WEAVER is. Is possible you might not like it, and that’s okay, but lots of people have enjoyed it.

    The “paying of dues” that authors always refer to can be done in many ways. Traditionally published authors face dozens, or even hundreds of rejections before their book finally sells. Self published authors (like myself) take on a whole different task: writing, editing, illustrating, formatting, publishing, and marketing a book, all by ourselves.

    I have to phone book stores, one at a time, and get them to stock my book. I need to find a way to attract people to my eBook listing, and somehow get them to click the buy button with no big publisher backing me up.

    My disagreement with your statement stems from the fact that my book *is* selling, and it didn’t take me ten years. :) Though it has taken a tremendous amount of work.

    Comment by Thomas A. Knight — April 12, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  5. What a fabulous moment! I’d say you’ve definitely made it, Kate. How exciting to be NOMINATED for an Edgar! Best of luck to you, and I’ve put your book on my ever-growing TBR list.

    Thanks, Jenny, for the “Moment”.

    Comment by mountainmama — April 13, 2012 @ 6:21 am

  6. An Edgar nomination and a movie option. It sounds like you’ve made it, Kate.

    As for that 10 year thing, it took me a year to write my first book. Then a year to shop it around, during which time I wrote a second book. I sold them both in a 2 book deal right out of the gate. Dues are paid in different ways. Some writers pay their dues before they sell. Some pay after they sell. The only thing about dues is that you do have to pay them. Too many writers think there’s a magic formula for success. They want to know the shortcuts. I tell them all the same thing. No shortcuts. No secret handshakes. I’m a strong believer in learning through trial and error. Write, write, write. Submit, submit, submit. And learn along the way. That’s what I call paying dues.

    Comment by Nancy Morse — April 13, 2012 @ 8:40 am

  7. Hi, Kate,

    I enjoy your work. Congrats on your continued success as a mystery writer.


    Jacqueline Seewald
    DEATH LEGACY–new Five Star/Gale release

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — April 13, 2012 @ 9:12 am

  8. What a great moment Kate! Congrats on the award! You did it and that gives all authors out there hope.

    Comment by Kellie — April 13, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  9. That is a wonderful moment! I love it. Congrats. You deserve every reward.

    Comment by SavvyBlue — April 13, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  10. Thanks Kate, for telling us the truth. It does take time to learn the craft of writing. Digging in and working is the best avenue, family and friends can only do so much the rest is up to us.
    Thank you again for a terrific post.
    Irene (Nash Black)

    Comment by Nash Black — April 13, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  11. I really enjoyed this post because it shows once again how hard you all work. I just finished “Redemption,” and I can’t wait for the next one (hint, hint). I like the way you capture his humanity, and I that of his cohorts. Thank you for the pleasure.

    Comment by Lil Gluckstern — April 13, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  12. HI Jenny, Kate and everyone! I so enjoy Jenny’s wonderful blog. I always read it though I don’t always comment. I’ll be speaking at our local SinC chapter (giddy w/happiness to have a SinC chptr within driving distance)this June on Marketing and Jenny’s blog will be part of my must read promotion sites for authors.

    thanks too Kate for reminding all of us, that perserverance is truly a virtue.

    Comment by RP Dahlke — April 13, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  13. Kate – What a lovely, enlightened post! And I love these comments. What all the commenters who claim it hasn’t taken them 10 years to reach their “success” have not understood is that they are right where you were that year when you had two books out from two different publishers! You thought that you had “made it” at last and it would remain the same from there on out. But oh how fickle publishing can be, and the authors who “make it” are those who survive the ups and downs of this crazy business and come out all the richer (both financially and personally) from their experiences. Congratulations! You deserve your success and acclaim, most of all because you earned it.

    Comment by Christine Kling — April 14, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  14. This is one terrific comment stream. What I love about the Moments is how they’re intimate and of-the-heart–and inevitably generate such deep and substantive responses, they could be posts of their own.

    Or maybe it’s you guys. You’re great, after all.

    Comment by jenny — April 14, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

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