If I could turn back time

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Monday musings on writing

by Raine Thomas

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

You may have noticed that we’ve had a few posts by other Bestselling Reads authors in recent weeks discussing what they’d do differently in their first book if they could do it all over again. The funny thing is, I contributed this blog topic to the group. Yet when it came time to think about my own response, I struggled.

I’m one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason and it happens at the pace it’s meant to. I also believe in the value of mistakes. They help us learn, grow, and, in many cases, thrive.

That said, there are certainly things I would do differently if I could turn back time. I have learned a lot in the nearly ten years since publishing my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. Indeed, since I published those books when indie publishing was just hitting its stride, one could argue that the industry as a whole has changed since then.

The first thing I would do if I could go back in “publishing time” is get more prepared for engaging with fans before publishing. I had less than twenty Twitter followers when I decided to self-publish. I think I had less on Facebook. I made some unknowingly smart decisions by publishing all three books in the trilogy at once and using Becoming’s cover as my avatar. It resulted in almost immediate interest and a rapid boost in my social media following. If I had done the work to build my social media platforms before publishing, it stands to reason the books would have been exponentially more successful.

Hindsight and all that.

Another thing I would do differently is broaden my beta reader pool. My first beta readers were all people I knew well. That’s never the best idea! It’s rare for someone who cares about you to give you honest, unfiltered feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I got plenty of constructive input, but there are things I could’ve tightened up with more objective insights.

Photo by Dave Photoz on Unsplash

Marketing is something else I’d do differently if I could go back to that fateful day when I first clicked the publish button. Options for indies were more limited back then, but I didn’t so much as think about researching avenues to promote my books. I should have worked on developing relationships with book bloggers ahead of time. I should have looked into paid and free advertising. In short, I should have done more than create a website and a couple of social media accounts and pray for readers to find my books.

Would I change anything in those first three books if I could go back in time? Maybe. But I’ve developed a strong fan base of readers who love the books just as they are. So that’s a tough call. As I work on my next project, a novella in my baseball romance series called Ready for the Curve, I am drawing on all the experience I’ve gained since publishing the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy. I’m also participating in courses and trainings to enhance what I’ve learned. The crafts of writing and publishing are ever-evolving, and I’m determined to evolve with them!

Raine Thomas

is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction.

Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches, and will soon be crossing the border again to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Get to know Raine at her

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The Quisling Factor

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A bestselling Friday focus

By J.L. Oakley

As soon as Tommy was out of sight, Haugland jogged up the tree-lined driveway, slowing down where the pines opened up. From there he saw the fruit trees planted below the ruined farmhouse. Haugland cocked his head to listen to any sound, frustrated that he had to rely on the hearing just in his right ear. Nothing.

He surveyed the scene carefully. It would a while before the sun cleared the hills and fjell to the east, so the light was dim, but he could see clearly. He looked at the house and froze. The ancient door to the dairy in the stone foundation was open. He was certain it was locked when he was up here a couple of days ago.

Who was at the farmhouse? Someone pilfering it? Times were hard, but stealing from a neighbor would be a terrible infraction. He watched for any sign of movement around the door and saw none. Caution, however, told him to wait. Tommy would be getting close to the cabin by now. If Haugland didn’t show up, he’d find his way up here.

On Haugland’s right, the field ran alongside the edge of the pine and birch forest until it ran into a jumble of brambles. A narrow path led down to the cabin. He was torn about going up to the dairy or starting down. He decided to go up.

At the door, Haugland listened carefully again. Drawing his pistol, he slowly pushed the door open. It was dark in the cellar. He had come down here once with Anna—was that nineteen months ago? He was with her when she discovered the secret cave hidden in the back of the pantry. That finding had saved Kjell and Helmer while German soldiers searched the house during the razzia. But now, the chill of the cellar stirred in Haugland claustrophobic memories of the basement in Rinnan’s Cloister. Without a flashlight, he could not make out anything other than long-discarded tins and wooden boxes used for butter and cheesemaking next to him. Satisfied that no one was inside, he came out. Shaking off his unease, he turned toward the brambles. Whoever had come up here must have felt safe leaving his bicycle down on the road. Haugland hoped Tommy would approach the cabin with caution.

He listened for any movement above him, but heard nothing. He left the door open as he found it and started down.

The wind had picked up, bringing with it stinging bits of frozen moisture. By the time he reached the brambles, he felt sure they were in for sleet or hail. He took a deep breath and stepped onto the path.

The brown brambles were thick and woody, their thorns catching Haugland’s sweater as he passed through. Holding his pistol high in the air, he pulled back, then when freed, went forward.

The shortcut to the cabin began to descend down toward the pines around the back of the cabin. He stopped and listened. Somewhere ahead, a bird flitted in the underbrush, making sharp chirping sounds, but he couldn’t tell where exactly it called from. The bird continued on, then suddenly stopped. Haugland stood dead still, searching for the reason. Again nothing. My ear is playing tricks on me. He took a step out of the brambles and onto ground covered with pine cones and needles. He heard the click too late. Something cold and metallic touched the side of his head.

“Stay where you are,” a familiar voice said. “Put your hands up and drop your gun.”

Haugland carefully raised his hands. “You don’t want to do this. I’m not alone.”

He heard the man shift on his feet. The gun shook in the man’s hands. Be careful with that. Haugland surmised the man wasn’t sure how to use a firearm which made him dangerous. Haugland didn’t want to die by the pistol going off accidentally.

The Quisling Factor

Treason. Espionage. Revenge.

In the aftermath of WWII, ex-intelligence agent Tore Haugland tries to adjust to life in his newly freed country with the woman he loves. But he still has to testify against a Norwegian traitor—one of the monsters of the German occupation—whom he helped to capture.

When mysterious notes threaten Haugland and his family, he must choose between protecting them or bringing to justice the man who tortured him and destroyed the village that hid him.

Challenged by injuries and recurring nightmares, he will have to rely on his former training and old Resistance friends to rescue his wife from the traitor who will do anything to keep Haugland from testifying.

Get it on Amazon.

J.L. Oakley

has established a reputation for writing outstanding historical fiction set in the mid-19th century to the Second World War.

In 2013, she received the Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award and the Chanticleer Grand Prize for Tree Soldier, a novel set in the Forest Service, a Depression-era program in the Pacific Northwest. In 2017, Janet won the Goethe Grand Prize for The Jøssing Affair, the 2018 Will Rogers Silver Medallion and two WILLA Silver Awards.

 Visit her on her:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley.

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