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Between 2005-2006 I wrote the first draft of The Lost Valor of Love. It had a different title and was a much thinner story, missing a lot of integral pieces. I didn't really know much about the craft of writing, I just had a story to tell. It was my first attempt. It showed.

Back then I naively believed just telling a story was enough. I didn't know about plot, pacing, character development, showing not telling, point of view, dialogue, format, description. I just dumped a whole lot of words onto a Word document and called it a book.

Then I had my book professionally edited. The help and advice I received was invaluable, but back then I didn't take criticism very well, so went into a massive huff and put the book away saying my beautiful work was 'misunderstood' -- a typical reaction for an aspiring writer. The real mark that defines a writer from a non-writer is whether one bucks up and takes the criticism on the chin and learns the craft or doesn't.

I didn't look at the ten-page editorial review again until 2008. The book called to me, but looking through the editor's meticulous notes, I realized there were a lot of issues. Actually there were so many issues, I don't think I did anything right. All I really had was a story and a badly stitched up one at that.

That was when I decided to learn the craft of writing so I could tell the story properly, no matter how long it was going to take. I also wanted to deepen the history, and that was when I really dug in and started to research the book to include the history of Hatti, which at that time I knew almost nothing about.

Between 2008 and 2013 I researched deep into the history of the thirteenth century BCE. During that time, I also tutored several Swedish middle grade students in English. This was an invaluable exercise since I had to learn the technicalities of grammar to teach it, it's one thing to inherently know it, a whole other thing to explain it to others. I learned a lot just teaching them. And as I learned the finer points of grammar and came to a better understanding of the linguistic tools a writer uses I saw just how many errors I had made in my first draft.

Between 2013 and 2015 I completely rewrote The Lost Valor of Love and in early 2016 I sent it back to be looked at by a new editor, the author Katherine Stansfield. In late March I received her feedback. The second time around, the feedback was much better, but there were still some structural issues and other points I had to work on, however she made it clear she thought I was onto something good, and I just needed to keep improving my craft. We emailed back and forth until I understood exactly what I needed to fix, whereupon I worked very hard on the next revision until August 2016 when I sent it back for another review. The third time, I received glowing feedback, with suggestions for a few finer revisions. A fourth review followed in October 2016.

A final round of revisions was required to improve the dialogue, which meant quite large changes to the structure of the book since initially I had experimented with writing the whole book without a single dialogue tag or using the word 'said'.  Katherine told me many authors have tried the same before but without success; for readers to immerse themselves into the story, prevent confusion, and avoid repetitious sentence structures, it's best to have those tags.

At this point I was both exhausted from working continuously on revising The Lost Valor of Love and overwhelmed by the immensity of the work still in front of me. NaNoWriMo 2016 was fast approaching and I had planned to write a fanfiction (Into the Light) during that time so I decided to use that project to practice writing dialogue. Once it was completed, I still felt I lacked the confidence to fix The Lost Valor of Love so I spent December 2016 to April 2017 writing and publishing another book to continue practice writing dialogue (Daughter of Azeroth). At the end of that book, I felt ready to tackle the re-write ofThe Lost Valor of Love.

After two more months of non-stop work, The Lost Valor of Love was ready to go to a copy editor (which meant another round of tedious and tricky revisions). But finally, in the summer of 2017 The Lost Valor of Love was publised by Arundel House Press in e-book and print format (paperback and hardcover).

The whole experience was intense. I learned quite a lot, while additionally enjoying the rare privilege of being taken under the wing of a successful author who knows the craft inside out, herself a professor of a masters of creative writing course in the UK. Since then I have realized some of the things I learned during this experience might benefit other aspiring authors, saving them time and energy so they can get straight to the sweet spot of writing their book, confident in the knowledge they are doing it just like the industry professionals expect.

So without any further ado. Let's get to the good stuff.

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