J. Huffman, Editrix
So a short twitter conversation with the ever-so-delightful @GeekShui got me thinking about my incredibly irrational but wholly gigantic loathing for reblogging.  What is reblogging, you ask?  From my short and underwhelming experience with it, reblogging is as follows:
1) Find something interesting on the internet that someone else produced.  An article, picture, video, what-have-you.  
2) Click a little box and add it to your reblogging service "queue"
3) Reblogging service kicks up that link on your "blog" with little to no action taken by the "blogger"
4) Other "bloggers" that see your link and find it interesting click "add to MY queue" and the link is then posted to the next "blog".  (Keep in mind there is often little-to-no context so sometimes it feels like you're walking into an inside joke that there is no way to ever understand.)
5) Wash, rinse, repeat

I may not have the mechanics quite down but the idea I'm getting at is this:  sharing a link or a picture every once in a while is one thing, but doing nothing but posting links and pictures of other people's thoughts leads me to believe that there is not one unique idea running around in that person's head.  I find that incredibly sad, and really rather alarming.

When I was growing up (oh, yeah, it's going to be one of those posts) I had my own thing going on that relates to this.  Just work with me here for a second.  I am a twin.  Yes, we look similar but no, we are not identical.  We sound the same over the phone, we make the same faces at people, we get called each other's names.   That having been said, as a twin, I fought really really hard to distinguish myself from both my uterine roommate and the assumptions that people have about twins.  The worst thing in my world at that time was being constantly referred to "the girls" or "the twins" because it meant that we were automatically lumped into one entity, everywhere, all the time.  No matter that Amy (*waves* hi, squeeshtore!) and I were two people, we were often assumed to be one thing.  My mom did a grand job of separatism but the people, they just sometimes don't care to understand.  You come into the world as a pair, you are a pair*, that's just how it is in their minds.  One card for our birthday, one present to share, one cake, that sort of thing.  It's something that you can't explain, really, because it sounds kind of selfish and silly in the grand scheme of things, I suppose.  Though I still get asked, "what's it like to be a twin?" all the freakin' time.  You know what?  I have no idea.  I have no other siblings and have never been an only child so, ultimately,  I have no frame of reference.  

Anyhow, the point is that I have spent a great deal of time and energy developing this unique being that is Jenna.  Yes, I like to share funny stories and wacky pictures and even blogs from other people.  But I have worked too damn hard to have my own unique ideas and comments and thoughts to share.  This is why the very idea of reblogging bothers me - it's sharing someone else's thought over and over, often without context or even clever commentary.  Reblogging services may work well for Justin Bieber fans...there's only so many ways to say "he's dreamy" before a teenage mind explodes from the pressure of finding adjectives.  I find it really bizarre that people who style themselves "bloggers" use this sort of thing at all, posting nothing but links to articles that they didn't even write!  To me being a "blogger" means that you write stuff down that came from your own brain and then post it for people to read.  Simple, really.  Now I realize that I am making some broad generalizations, too, and that some people have turned reblogging into an art form.  This post is not for them.  Clearly.

It can be difficult to put yourself out there, to let other people read what you have to say.  There's a certain vulnerability that one must figure out how to deal with and sometimes the internet is not a very nice place.  I would rather be mocked for something that I said/typed off the top of my head, though, than to only share links to other people's words.  And you may mock me for that, at least I had the courage to say it, even if I'm not as eloquent as a Justin Bieber fan.

*Don't get me started on the people that joke about having relations with a pair of hot twins - that's called incest.  It's illegal and, um, EW.
 In between the editing there is something else that only crops up to be talked about in the wee hours of the morning, when the pen is especially heavy, and when the frustrations bunch up into listlessness.  Save the children and perhaps the spouses, I'm going to talk about depression.

Those that know me are aware that I have my own personal demons and I deal with them as best as I am able, often through strangely repetitive cleaning rituals or by pitching a fit and giving everything I own to goodwill and starting over.  But tonight is not about either of those.  

No, Tonight is about the spaces between the words, the darkness that lurks in the places no one looks but me.  It's next to the comma I just deleted and it's all around the sentence I just turned italic.  It's not the writing or the editing that is the issue.  But editing in order to find the dark spaces is what drives me to do it for hours at a time without so much as a break.  It's looking at that darkness, the full, heavy black negative space that the lack of words creates.  That's where I come alive, that is where I am at my best - but it only shows itself in brief, glorious glimpses when I'm in the middle of editing something that may not be it's most entertaining self.  This is where I shine, where I take the blackness and hone it carefully, inserting it cautiously into words and phrases that may not be spectacular before.  Somehow that darkness forms the ideal thing, makes the voice sing or the sentence whole where it could never have been, once.

I imagine depression as a thing.  An entity that I can mold to my own needs even as it molds me to its needs.  It's got claws and fangs and weight and when it's serious, and not even the best writer in the world can drop gentle words to make it flow around and away to elsewhere.

Today seems to be one of those days.  I see the blackness, comfortable in it's depth, more so than I see any words at all, no matter who penned them.  It's insinuated between and betwixt everything I have laid my poor eyes on this evening until nothing is good or right or even sensical.  I don't feel depressed, but I know that I am because the spaces are filled and they're heavy.

How does one fight a heavy?  If it were a boxer you'd punch it in the schnoz a time or two.  If it were a mobster you'd perhaps fit him with cement shoes (sleeeeepin' with the fishes!).  But how do you take a weight that has no substance and do away with it?  Removing it from someone else's words and cleverly hiding it within my own seems to be the best idea of the day.  Just so I can protect the authors that don't have any idea that the spaces that are exposed weigh so much.  To protect those that I love and that which I love to do, I collect it for them and from them and disburse in my own space.  This is me being the hero, don't you feel safe?

Editing has it's days of activity and days of nearly ruinous doubt.  The days of doubt are the days when the spaces are heavy and are ready for me to harvest.  I gather it to myself because only I know, really, what to do with it all.  That bit of darkness goes over there and that teensy bit of weight yonder - but if you do it wrong, the imbalance may cause more chaos.  I'm a champ when it comes to knowing the exact heft of "not enough".  I know the difference between complete blackness and not so complete, and can fill the empty space with just enough to formulate complete.  

I'm very good at it.
How do you deal with distractions?  What sort of distractions can you ignore and what make your conscious ring with urgency?  
This is not a rhetorical question.  I have a couple of editing projects that I need to wrap up sooner rather than later and I have found myself absolutely devoid of focus. I am incredibly, edibly frustrated.  I work in a quiet space (no other people present, I don't have music on, just the window open) with little movement and relatively few toys.  For those that know me, desk toys are an absolute must-have for me.  I need color and smiley faces and goofy little things to surround myself with, if for no other reason than it brings me pleasure.  The toys are not the distraction, nor is the occasional car passing beneath the window.

This is reaching critical levels.  I'm distracted by the fact that I need to vacuum.  I'm a clean freak, I'll have you know, and random stuff on carpets make me batty - in this case it's a piece of a dead leaf that I broke off when doing plant maintenance this AM...and where there's one there are bound to be more...But the problem is not just the passing thought!  No, I am physically fighting the urge to get the vacuum out of the closet, vacuum all the things, then get back to editing.  It's like a deep restlessness that I cannot ignore and probably won't pass until I actually get up and vacuum.  I have other household projects to do that will not have this effect on me but that thing lying there on the carpet?  It's seriously driving me to the brink.  I'm going to have dreams wherein little dead leaves march up and down my spine and laugh and poke and cajole.  You just wait.

Yet here I am, tapping away at keys, alternating between formulating thoughts to blog and editing a manuscript.  But out of the corner of my eye the thing on the carpet mocks me.  When they tell you how to set up a workspace in your home they don't bother to mention these sorts of things, the little things that were you not actually working from home, you'd probably not even care one whit about.  At least until vacuuming day comes around.  

Sure, I could vacuum, but I'm in the middle of something and it seems silly to give in to dead plant matter mocking me on my carpet. 




So, my fine feathered friends, I have been keeping myself out of trouble (and really, really busy) with editing, writing book reviews, and reading.  The only rather regrettable portion of all of that is the fact that I rarely leave my house, now, even for coffee runs.  I find that I get so wrapped up in the project of the moment that the next thing I know, night has fallen and I'm still in my PJs.  The best part?  I have "met" a whole bunch of new authors/people, and continue to progress in working toward my ultimate goal of becoming a full-time paid editrix.  Slowly but surely, piece by piece.  

I'm one of many people that are building their dreams, their own way, with not a little help from strangers and friends alike.  It's refreshing to watch, as I hadn't been paying so close of attention to that sort of thing, and I should have been seeing it all along.  I know many, many people, and of those a great deal of them are secret writers, people who pour it out but never share it.  Musicians that create masterpieces of sound but never let anyone listen.  Artists that bare their souls on canvas or even the iPad that don't share it with the world.  I find this to be terribly saddening, truth be told.

My husband is one of those musicians.  He has an amazing ear, knows how to work every synthesizer known to man, and can create veritable symphonies in an hour or so.  I can count on one hand the number of people that I recall offhand that have ever really heard his music.  This is a travesty, in my mind, because I think that the world would love it as much as I do.  Out of respect for his apprehension, I don't push the issue.  It's his dream, it's his creation, he should control it - but that's just the thing...no one will ever know if they never hear it.  I encourage but I can't rightfully distribute, which to me is kind of a shame.  I'd love to have you all listen, and hear, and know.  

I want this for the authors I'm editing for, as well.  Each in their own way, they're whispering their innermost thoughts to us, and what a huge responsibility that is to shepherd.  I want to be equal to each, in their own uniqueness and rhythm, with my proverbial red pen.  I strive to cultivate the stories carefully, not changing things to drown out what the writer wants to convey but only to make it sing to a broad audience.  The changes I make are, of course, up for debate and discussion and ultimately it is the writer's choice to go with it or not - doesn't hurt my feelings one bit either way.  But it's very like the husband's music - I want to share the joy and the passion and the tale, but I don't want to overstep my bounds.

Knowing the difference between changing the writer's voice and making basic edits is priceless, and something I strive to learn every day, with every story.  It's sometimes not easy, but it's so worth it when it all comes to fruition.  

I want to encourage everyone to share their art with someone.  Doesn't have to be public, to be certain.  But it is a great way to get more satisfaction out of it.  See it through someone else's eyes, maybe the beauty or the pain will be reflected back at you and you'll be inspired anew.  You never know.




By clicking the link below, you'll find reviews and book talk, all written by yours truly!  I'd love it if you'd go take a look:

The Giant Fire Breathing Robot! 




These are books I have edited.  Most can be found on Amazon or Smashwords - you may wish to shop around for a less expensive version, if you're so inclined!

Ransom X by I.B. Holder
If Tribe {=}, forthcoming book three in the Amoral Bridge Series by Gary A. Ballard
Spiral X by J.J. Westendarp
Reaper's Flight, Book 2 in the Aerthos Trilogy by Ren Cummins
The Bandit andThe Back Up both by Sandee Watkins

No links yet, but other editing projects include Grimme by Peter Smalley, Sheltered by Megan Tredway, and Peret, Book 2 of Sekhmet's Light by H. L. Reasby.

I'm also the Geeky Books Writer at Giant Fire Breathing Robot, so reviews and whatnot will be posted there.

So many fun things coming your way, my friends!
I find that I have sadly neglected my little part of the blogosphere - I'm sure that everyone is waiting with baited breath for my next words of wisdom, no?  If that's the case, I suppose I should provide an update for my adoring fans.

Noteworthy:  I was laid off from my job at the end of December - this was NOT unexpected, and it actually has been the catalyst for many positive things.  I have managed to finally get the initial edit of Grimme back to Peter, which took far longer than it ever should have (again, Mr. Smalley, if you're reading this, your patience is appreciated deeply!).  I have edited a second book by Sandee Watkins called The Bandit.  I harnessed the power of Twitter and have a couple of new projects cooking up - both of which are very promising in their own ways and I'm thrilled to be a part of each.  More about those projects at a not-so-distant time!

The holidays were grand for me - so much better than the previous few years.  I managed to not spend Christmas day in the emergency room, which is how I now mark a successful season.  

On to the next thing, I suppose, is the theme of 2011.  I have been communicating with the fine folks at Echelon Press about freelancing for them, which is exciting and splendid.  I am also now the Geeky Books Writer for the Giant Fire Breathing Robot, which is about 1,000 shades of awesome.  I hope you'll go check out the site and let me know what you think!

I hope that this little update will serve for the moment - and I promise I'll be better about updating this lil' weeble more often.  My best for 2011 - which is already immensely better than 2010, at least in my world!
So reading through the twitter feed this AM, I ran across a couple of links to blogs regarding some sort of discourse regarding a certain personally beloved genre, steampunk.  What it kind of boils down to is that someone(s) are/were annoyed with the "glut" of books being offered up with a steampunk bent and then goes on to point out that glorifying the 19th century through these types of works is not "historically accurate".  I am, of course, generalizing the hell out of the whole thing, but you get the idea, right?

In the interest of full disclosure I must admit freely that I'm attached to this sub-genre personally as well as professionally, so I might have a few self-serving interests going on.  However I still have to ask when it was, precisely, that someone decided that fiction had to be historically accurate?  I rather thought the entire point of writing fiction is to make stuff up.  Perhaps I didn't get the memo on that shift in paradigm. 

I, too, have noted an increase of books that have a steampunk theme to them cropping up in suggestion boxes more often than in times past for me on Goodreads or even prominently displayed at Powell's.  William Gibson introduced me to cyberpunk many, many years ago.  So, too, did cyberpunk make a the same types of appearances, and still does, in it's own cyclical pattern.  Another turn of the screw, another sub-genre gains the spotlight for a minute.  This is true in fiction, movies, music - and is driven by the consumers at large.  So these steampunk authors have been doing something right, since it seems that they've earned their moments to shine.   The next new thing may very well be the last old thing.  I fervently hope it's not sparkly vampires or something akin but hey, those stories have their place in the world, too.  I haven't ever met an accurate vampire, have you?  If so please send them my way.  I would like to ask a few questions.

There were also some few references to the "impossibility" of some of the gadgets and machines that have been dreamed up by writers of this genre - to which I have to wonder:  so what if the science doesn't hold water?  (OH I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE!)  It's fiction, not an episode of Mythbusters.  I don't read steampunk books to get historically accurate facts, much like I don't read high fantasy to inform myself about swordsmanship.  But I like reading about guys with swords AND girls who make flying ships out of metal and steam.  I like the idea that these authors have taken pieces of what might have been back in the 19th century and created something fantastical with it.   I applaud the authors taking chances to evoke the creation of a gadget with the resources at hand while telling me a fancy tale.  It's like MacGuyver with corsets.

The blog that I read that inspired me to write this post can be found here: 
There's been a lot of hullabaloo about the Cooks Source "editor" that plagiarized an article and then had the audacity to inform the original author that it had been improved upon and that the author should pay them.  Wait, WHAT?

Here's a link to a short article from Gizmodo that explains it better than I could:  http://gizmodo.com/5681714/attention-the-web-is-not-public-domain

So my first thought on this whole mess?  I am mortified to share a title with the "editor"  in question.  I don't ever want my lot thrown in with someone that calls herself an "editor" but cannot even be fussed to spell everything in an email correctly.  Or that uses "my bad" by way of an "apology", for that matter.

I have seen some of the invectives lobbed at this woman on Facebook and Twitter, etc., and while I agree with the consensus that her reaction to the author's email was absolutely in poor taste, as well as being ethically questionable, it disturbed me that people got into the mode of wishing the "editor" to get cancer (!) or any number of other unpleasant things to befall her.   She chose to reply to the author in a disrespectful and unprofessional manner but that does not give anyone else the right to wish her actual harm.   Play nice in the sandbox, indeed.

I am not averse to threatening comical stabbity amongst friends when wildly inappropriate.  But it seems to me that attacking her person versus her actions is wildly inappropriate, as well.  

I don't want you to think that I support her actions or anything close to.   I'm the one that doesn't want to share a title with her, remember?  I'd just rather hope that being outraged about an author's plight would be taken up in a more civilized manner.  I know that this is the internet and all is "fair" in love and war and internet trolling...I'd just rather have editors, authors and readers show some class when faced with this sort of disaster.

    About Jenna:

    I love books.  Deeply, passionately, and above almost all else.  Let me help you by editing your book!  jjh.edits@gmail.com