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Featured Author: Deek Rhew

    Welcome to a new type of post here on the Touchstone Editing blog! We've worked with some amazing authors over the years, so we've invited some of them to provide additional perspective on both the editing process and publishing in general.
    First up is Deek Rhew. Deek impressed me from the very first time I worked with him. He swears he was intimidated by the notes in my first editorial letter, but rather than getting discouraged, he sent me a detailed list of both questions and proposed solutions to the problems in that draft of 122 Rules. Ever since, I've been excited to watch where that combination of humility and determination will take his career!
    So without further ado, meet Deek:

I'm honored to get to guest post for Touchstone Editing. Anya Kagan was the editor for both of my books, Birth of an American Gigolo and 122 Rules. So when she invited me to write about editing from an author's point of view, I jumped at the chance.

I can write a rough manuscript in about three to four months. I started my latest sci-fi thriller, Xtractors, at the end of January and am about 2/3 done with it. Forgoing life throwing me a curveball, I should be done with it by May. Sounds great, doesn't it? A whole book in three months! Send out the press releases and line up the agents, here comes the next best seller!

Only not.

While I can finish the rough in a few months, I will spend six to nine months editing it. This sounds like a long time, and I suppose from the outside, it might be. To clarify, here's a rough timeline of the process:

Months 1–4: Rough draft. This is the no-holds-barred, raw writing of the manuscript. This process is ONLY about story. The manuscript will have passive voice, adverbs aplenty, talking heads, on and on and on. But that's okay. Here, I let my imagination off of its leash and kennel my analytical mind as it will only get in the way and stifle creativity.

Months 4ish–12ish: Editing, Round One. In this phase, I:
  • Dive deeper into the characters, their motives, their thoughts, and their lives.
  • Iron out story flaws and plot holes.
  • Remove as much "telling" as possible (this is harder than it sounds). "Telling" is information told to the user as apposed to showing them. For instance:

      Jane dove like an insane person into the car.
      Jane ran full speed, her arms pumping and her sneakers pounding, across the street. At the last second before she ran into the side of the vehicle, she leapt. Landing on her butt, she slid across the slick, hot hood of the car. She caught the rim of the window with her fingers and flipped, like a gymnast going for the gold, into the front seat.
  • Work on the character arc, making sure that the characters grow.
  • Remove passive voice.
  • Remove grammatical errors.
  • Fix word choice.
  • Etc. etc. etc.
There are a lot of things going on during this pass, not the least of which is fixing my writing weaknesses and bad habits. These are sometimes incredibly difficult to catch because, well, they're my writing weaknesses and bad habits, but I do my best.

After I finish each chapter, I read it out loud. This is a often a multi-pass through process to ensure that everything sounds good to my ear. I think this is especially good for dialogue. Until it sounds just right to my ear, I'll keep reworking it until I'm satisfied.

Okay, so Round 1 is done! Grab a Coke and a pizza, finally time to celebrate! Well, actually no. Now it's time to let this thing ferment and work on something different. Mid-January of this year, I finished a nine-month round of edits on the second novel in the 122 Rules series: 122 Rules - Redemption. This book is now sitting on a shelf waiting for me to get back to it while I write Xtractors. I need to distance myself from this work for a while and get a little perspective before I go back to it.

I'll finish a full round of edits on Xtractors, and then I'll do another round of edits on Redemption. This will probably take another month, most likely two. Only after I'm satisfied with this pass through will I turn it first over to my wife, Erin Rhew, who is not only an author but an editor too. Once she's done, I'll turn it over to Anya here at Touchstone for her to do her worst.

No matter how good I think it is, Erin and Anya will find a ton of problems. Honestly, I think that's awesome. I know that being an author is an evolving, learning experience, and that each manuscript will (hopefully!) be better than the last but never perfect.


Erin is good at content edits and amazing at line edits. She'll grammar the stink out of my book. Anya will help me tear it apart and put it back together in ways that I never imagined. The first editorial letter I got from her for 122 was a sucker-punch to the gut. Even so, I look forward to seeing what ways she'll find to improve my book.

Excerpt from an editorial letter for 122 Rules

If you get an editor that tells you to give them your raw, unedited manuscript, you give your editor the boot. If they tell you that your work is great and doesn't need much work, you need to tell your editor to take a hike. Unless you're Shakespeare or Stephen King, that's not going to happen. You want someone willing to work hard. You want someone that not only knows the truth about what you need to fix but is also willing to tell you.

If your editor doesn't tell you, then the reviewers on Amazon will.

Thanks so much, Touchstone Editing and Anya!

Deek Rhew has been enthralled by the written word and storytelling since he picked up his first Stephen King novel It. On his way to work one day, a scene so vivid flashed through his mind that he felt compelled to pull over and put it to paper. Having neither quill nor parchment in which to document the image, he laboriously pecked out the first chapter of his debut novel, 122 Rules, on his phone.

Connect with Deek on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest on his books, news, and upcoming events.

Touchstone Editing Turns Two!

Technically, we're a little bit past the official two-year mark, but we decided to postpone the celebration due to last week's Writers for Hope auction. Now, however, it's time for a party!

Over the last two years, we've:
Photo credit: Skley via / CC BY-ND

Thank you for being a part of it all!

And what's a party without some door prizes? Enter below for a chance to win one of two 30-page critiques, or one of two 15-page critiques!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2017 Writers For Hope Auction for @RAINN01!

The fourth annual Writers for Hope Auction is happening today! Each year, editors, agents, and authors contribute amazing auction items to raise money to combat sexual assault, and 100% of the proceeds go to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the United States' largest anti-sexual assault organization.

There are over 100 items being auctioned off today. Whether you're looking for a critique opportunity, or new books to read, or a great gift for a friend, this is a wonderful chance to get what you need while also standing up against sexual assault and supporting a wonderful organization that fights back. Bids start at only $10!

Don't forget: this is only a one-day auction, and bidding closes at 11:59pm EST (8:59pm PST). Watch out for those last-minute bidders!