J. Huffman, Editrix
 
Editing news!  I am truly excited to let you know that another book has been added to the "current projects" list!  In addition to Grimme by Peter Smalley, I'm now also workingon Spiral X by J. J. Westendarp.   Both come with their own sets of unique challenges and as I get further into my groove, I am grateful that I have the opportunity  given by these fine authors - I'm doing what I love, and learning so much throughout the process.  I do so love the act of learning. 

I fervently wish I had more free time to dedicate solely to editing.  I suspect that wishing my life away will not ultimately contribute any more time that I could be using to do...well, anything, really.    I must choose to click my little boxes with alacrity, so that I may leave the day job knowing that I put this work ethic to it's best use for the people I'm employed by.   Because there have been days when getting this much work done by lunchtime just wasn't feasible.  So I remind myself that accomplishing goals for any reason is not only expected, but that it's sometimes appreciated deeply.

I also know that it comes down to choice.  I choose to work aside from editing because I really enjoy having some discretionary income.  I choose to work here because I like the people I work with (which is really the most important component, isn't it?) and the work is not horrible.  Repetitive, yes, sometimes.  But, truth be told, so is editing - there are so many creative ways to use a comma, but only one way to remove it from that unfortunate placement within a sentence:  delete it. 

I struggle with the entropy of clicking little boxes because it's not terrifically challenging, and it contributes to the heat death of the universe.  So does editing, though, I suppose.  Wishing my life away doesn't achieve any goals, and it certainly doesn't get these boxes clicked any faster. 

I know that, without doubt, I am a champion box-checker.   I would like to be an outstanding editor.  Ultimately, one of these things is so much like the other with no other correlation than the addition of yours truly that it puts things nicely in perspective for the rest of the afternoon.
 
This morning's commute brought to you by the letter A for "ACK!".  Public transportation is more challenging on days like today, when it seems that everyone and their brother opted to take the train instead of their cars.  It seems to make everything too close, too pronounced, too loud.  But we've talked about silence already, so I'll not bore you with that.

The real reason I'm here today:  I am looking for new projects!  I am currently working on "Grimme" by Peter Smalley and at first blush (I did a quick read-through over the weekend) it doesn't seem to need a lot of tinkering.  While I'm perfectly delighted to tinker,  I suspect that "Grimme" will be, in relative terms, a breeze to edit.

That having been said:  a call to authors, people who are friends with authors, possibly-nearly-aspiring authors, lend me your ears!  Er, lend me your words!  I promise to be careful and kind with them.  There are several ways to contact me - if you visit the "About the Editor" link (above) there is a contact form to fill out, or you may always email me at jjh.edits@gmail.com.   I am also on Goodreads and LinkedIn (both listings might be found by searching for "Jenna Huffman").

I would like to edit your book.  You would like your book edited.  How can this be anything but a terrific pairing?

The drippy?  Yeah, well, I live in Oregon.  Go figure. 
 
So there are people that come into your life, even virtually, that you just have to give credit where credit is due.  I admire many people for who and what they are, what they do, create, produce, mimic...for sharing their passions with the world.  I am, if nothing else, the ultimate audience - I may not be able to sing or draw or any of it, but I know how to be appreciative of whatever it is.  Words, music, glass, metal, dance - show me your passion and I'll show you my gratitude.  I will be awed by your drive, I will be motivated by your love, I will praise your vision.  I will do so with honesty, because I believe strongly that being granted audience is a gift you share with me.  I do not take that lightly.

However one person has had such an impact on me (and not in the way that, perhaps, she's had on most others) that I feel like I have to get it out there into the universe.  Maybe she'll read it, maybe not.  The intent is what is important here, and the conveyance thereof.

I was introduced to a band named the Dresden Dolls by way of a friend and a seedy bar that I used to frequent.  "Coin-Operated Boy", for those of you wondering the actual tune...there's something about that song that just kind of took hold and enjoys rattling around in my brain.  Tangentally, I am friends with Kyle Cassidy on LiveJournal (http://kylecassidy.livejournal.com/), who, around the same time, started talking about something special coming...the "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" book.  Suffice it to say that I thought I'd do some poking around to find out who Amanda Palmer really was (oh, look, she's the lead singer of the Dresden Dolls!  How the hell did I miss that?), because I cannot tell you how much I love WKAP.  A delightful collaboration and so not the point of this story!  Sorry about that.

I figure out that the lovely and talented Amanda Palmer has a blog (http://blog.amandapalmer.net) and a twitter or two (@amandapalmer).  So I started reading....and reading....and to what do my wondering eyes did appear?  This beautiful passionate riotous colorful lady that is the champion of being true to your fucking self.  Reading her blog brought clarity to my brain in a way nothing ever could.  This woman is really a self-made wonder.  She's taken what she loves and danced with it.  Also, she's done a great deal of it publicly - she cheers on her comrades, loves her fiancee (who else could be fierce enough to be wed to Neil Gaiman?), curses foully and with aplomb, shares stories of girly woes and infections.  But you know what?  The whole of her, what she shared with me as a reader, made me want to follow my bliss into this editorial jaunt.   Not because her music inspired me, and that might be what sets me apart from her fans...I don't know - I am devoted to her as a writer, showering her readers with the tales a real human being with foibles and sadness and laughter who is living the dream (or close to, at any rate).  It's because of how she told the story of who she has become.  Because she lives to achieve her dreams so she just throws herself into them.  With abandon, with the love and support of her fans, with borrowed keyboards and couch-surfing, she's told the story of being Amanda Fucking Palmer.  She doesn't apologize nor quibble - she just is.  Win, fail or draw, she's full of passion and drive and an unerring ability to just keep ushering the next big thing, all the while being gracious and brutally honest.  She loves the people that have supported her and all of her endeavors, and she makes that perfectly clear, as well. 

I think that mostly I owe Ms. Palmer a debt of unending gratitude for reminding me that DISCOVERING what want to be when you grow up is the major hurdle...doing what you love will come naturally after that.  Sure, you'll have to work hard and make a good name for yourself, be true to your people and your deadlines, and you'll be overwhelmed and tired and irritable sometimes.  But you will also find immense joy, astounding supporters, and a happiness that only living your passion can bring.  You may not be able to live like a king, hell, you may have to survive on the kindness of strangers...but that kindness is always there, if you know how to ask for it.  Or are humble enough to ask for it and full of enough grace to appreciate it with your whole heart.

So, to you, Amanda Fucking Palmer, I tip my imaginary hat.  I hope that sometime you will read this and understand that I would not be in the middle of remaking my life into something that I had once only toyed with the notion of becoming had it not been for you.  For you telling me in no uncertain terms that while it's great to dream, it's even better to chase that dream and sculpt it into whatever works.  It takes some guts, some words, some music and some support along the way but that it can be done.  And it can be beautiful.

Thank you.

 
 I like to be alone, I like complete silence, I like to be enveloped by stillness and quiet.  There are times when the need to be alone is so absolute that I wake up at 3am just to have a few hours of silence before I must get to the train to get to work, to leave my quiet behind in order to be filled up with other people's noise.  I love 3am for the quietude that it imparts, for the stillness that comes even before birds decide to start chirping, for the deep darkness that comes before the dawn.  It inspires me, it helps me to cope with the noise of daily existence.  

I am sensitive to sound, to the cacophony that humans make unwitting:  sneezing and laughing, crying and walking, humming and whistling tunelessly.  I dislike it when people feel the need to fill their space up with sound so much so that it intrudes into my space - loud TVs, constant music or talking or even all of the above at once.  I know a few people that can't manage silence.  It makes them nervous, visibly.  I can't fathom this - I can't fathom the need to hear something every waking moment, the need to fill a hole that may or may not be caused by an actual lack of anything.   The imagined desolation that people think about when they hear the word "silence" is a place of comfort and calm for me.  My demons are as loud as everyone's - or I suspect that they are, at any rate - I suppose that I have learned to appreciate their own unique music better than other people tolerate theirs.

I have become very attached to having time alone to enjoy the silence (someone please break out the Depeche Mode....) that I create.  I haven't had a lot of it in the past few days - the husband is on vacation and home 24/7 - and I'm a little worse for the wear.  I've had an attack of the sick, which I believe is related to the fact that I'm lacking silence.   It's vital to my well-being, you see. 

I can't imagine needing to fill my head and ears with sound, but many others can't imagine filling theirs with silence.  Because I am in the minority, I will hold on to 3am tightly as a gold coin.  It's treasure to my ears.  No talking, no babies crying, no people pounding up and down the stairs, no dogs barking...just a velvety deep silence. 
 
Yesterday I finished the initial edit of Sandee Watkins' The Back-Up.  There are a few things left to clean up after she finishes her review of MY review...but I'm pretty satisfied with how it all went.  The day job has been a bear the past few weeks, so it took longer than I'd initially thought.  Securities fraud waits for no man, I suppose.

 I (honestly) felt a bit out of my element with Sandee's book.  Not the nuts-and-bolts editing part, but with the genre itself.  I'm not sure that I've ever even read a romance novel, so it was something new and different.  This is what this journey is all about, though - exposing oneself to the vast possibilities of everyone who welcomes you to share their story.   I saw the love and care that went into it, and that is what matters, in the end.  It's very apparent in The Back-Up that Sandee loved this story and the characters that she created so carefully. 

In reading and re-reading Sandee's book, I understood something that should have been clear from the outset about myself.   I  must acknowledge that sometimes the "correct" grammar or language usage is not true to the voice of the character.  It's hard for me, I admit it, to not want to correct it.  I think: that is not how people actually talk!....but from the author's standpoint, it is the voice they hear in their head, the words that come out of the character's mouths as they create.   However, that still doesn't mean that the spelling of said vernacular can't do with some polishing.  I suppose that the instinct to make it right is something that most people look for in an editor, no?  It's just a personal thing, a preference that I have.  But that's not my mission - my mission is to take the words and order them, make them make sense on the page and within the general "rules" of grammar.  Make the it work for the words I've been given, not to reinvent the voice of the characters completely!  That's the entire point, really.

I am grateful to Sandee for her patience and her persistence (authors are a very persistent lot, as a whole...) through the initial process.  Links to the finished product after views and reviews forthcoming! 

In new news, I have another project to sink my teeth into.  Ren, aforementioned author of Reaper's Flight, has introduced me to an author friend of his named Peter Smalley.  Peter has, in turn, entrusted me with editing his book, Grimme.  I am so grateful for the opportunity.  Social networking at it's finest, that's what this is.

So, my fine feathered friends, I have another day of fraud to conquer and another book to edit.

 
So by now you know that I helped with editing Ren Cummin's book Reaper's Flight, right?  Have you read it yet?  You should, if you haven't.  You may thank me later. 

Ren is a generous soul.  I count myself exceedingly lucky to have known him for a few years, to have shared birthdays and beers and cheezes, to have met his lovely wife and his charming daughter.  To have listened to him sing with abandon to Rock Band (or Guitar Hero, I never really know which one...I just know it's vastly entertaining) and laugh with my husband. 

Turns out that Ren has also championed this lady's dream of becoming a real, honest-to-bob editor as well.  In giving credit, he's helped add legitimacy to this.  Lacking anything more thorough to properly convey my appreciation, I am left with the barely adequate "thank you".

And because of his support, I now also have another piece of joy to share with you...
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4379777.Jenna_Huffman

I'm really an editor, apparently. 

If you would like more information on Ren or his books, you may start here:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3400690.Ren_Cummins

I'm thankful, humbled and unabashedly proud of being a part of all of it.
 
Because inspiration seems to percolate through this ol' gray matter best when I'm supposed to be doing something else today, I'm just going to go with it.  Two posts in one day?  That's crazy talk.

I am scattered and frenzied and unsatisfied with Tuesday.  But in the spirit of goats (I'll explain), I am working to get the hell over that.

Let me tell you the story of the lightbulb moment that caused me toward this editorial pursuit, shall I?  It's brief and, in the end, it's worked out well for everyone.  Except maybe the goat.

So I acquired the iPad, and being the booknerd that I am, I promptly saw to downloading books, samples thereof, essays....anything.  Kindle had a pretty good selection, iBooks was giving away free novels by the dozens.  I picked a few of them up...some were not interesting enough to hold my attention.  Some were well written, well constructed and well...just OK.  Then there was Ransom X. 

I started reading Ransom X and was immediately and irrevocably drawn into a twisted place that was sort of a glorious train wreck.  I was intrigued by the *story* but the grammar and typos and disagreeing spellings of the main character's name just about killed me.  Honestly, I almost couldn't see getting all the way through it.  But the story, it spoke to me.  So I kept reading.  And the story kept getting better and more intense, even as the grammar did not.  The end came with such force and vision that I was literally moved, then and there, to hunt down the author and give some good-natured criticism.

To this end, I emailed the author and said basically this:  I hope that you take this email in the spirit in which it is offered - not a slam on your skills, but as a tool of improvement.  I loved your story so much that I want to help you make it better.  Or at least figure out once and for all which spelling of the main character's name is correct.  I will do it for free.  Please, you owe it to this story to make it legible for many, many people.

Imagine my surprise when I received a reply telling me how generous and unique my offer was and that we had an understanding, complete with a hefty word document attached.

I spent three weeks making those words look pretty.  I was unemployed at the time - it was the perfect way to spend my days.  I took my proverbial red pen and un-capitalized, re-named, re-homed and re-vamped.  I'm sure that there are still errors in it; I am, admittedly, human.

But to return that finished work to the author, confident that it was simply better than when I received it, was one of the best moments of my life.  Because I knew, without a doubt in the world, that this is what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I don't have the patience or the focus to be an author.  I know this to be true.  But I am really, really, really good at being an editor.

The simple passion in recognizing a story for having potential and then coaxing it toward greatness:  this is what I want to do.

How does this relate to goats?  I'm glad you asked.  A co-worker came in on Monday, determined to make this week at least start out on a more positive note than the last one ended on.  She's very very good at thinking positively, often.  Citing an article she'd read earlier, she said that there is not any possible way that a day around our office could be worse than the one this gent recently had:  "Hiker gored to death by angry mountain goat: Robert Boardman, 63, was attacked while eating lunch"

And that, my friends is why goats inspire me today.  Perspective is the single most valuable thing that we are offered sometimes.  Take it in the spirit in which it is offered!
 
This is one of those days where my mind wanders and I cannot focus.  I would rather be editing, would rather be reading, would rather be doing anything else than my day job.  There's just this need to move or absorb or feel electrified by words on a page.  I feel like I could be doing something that is infinitely more productive and worthwhile than this.

What do I do?  I am a claims analyst for a bankruptcy receivership.  What that really means?  I look at documents, crunch numbers and send out reams of paper.   As a day job it's not horrible, all things being equal.  I like my co-workers, and I guess I do believe that somewhere along the line I do make a difference to someone.   I've definitely had worse.

I strongly ascribe to the idea that I work for myself first and foremost.  What I do is part of who I am, whether it's a good day or a bad day.   I am not the contents of my wallet...but I find that I strongly like to have discretionary income.  People that know me even a little know that I am a self-described workaholic.  That -holism  seems to have deserted me, at least today in this office; this space and time.  I would rather be almost anywhere else doing almost anything else than listen to the drone of the phone and the chugging of the printers.  It feels small and dense and heavy and foreign.  My skin is prickling with the weight of fighting off the urge to flee.

But back to the real point:  I can't focus on anything for more than a minute or two without being interrupted by someone's noise or need or necessity.  And when it comes down to it I keep asking myself over and over what the point of it all really is.
I dared to ask an author that I had no ties to at all if I could edit his book in May, because an editor is what I want to be when I grow up.   It's reasonable, even attainable.  It's not like I want to be an astronaut or play for the NBA.

So why do I keep distracting myself?  I know what the goal is, why not just give in and focus on that wholly?  There are people that have helped me and supported me and that have helped and supported the authors that I have edited for.  They will continue to do so whether I spend 40 hours a week doing something that is almost exactly not like editing or not.

When I say I can't focus I mean it.  I have a current editing project that I cannot pour myself into for whatever reason (genre might have something to do with it), and I think part of the issue is that I don't have anything lined up to follow it.   I don't want to not be an editor...and not having another project means, somehow, that I'm not one.  Silly?  Perhaps.  Welcome to my brain.
 
I have had a lot of challenges within the past few weeks, getting editing done has been nearly impossible.  However, the last installment of Gary Ballard's "Amoral Bridge" series is finally sent off for his review and comments...If you haven't read the first two, I really recommend them - they're not too "technical" for non-cyberpunk readers, but not too dumbed-down for the more hardcore fans.  The characters are real, believable, lovable and loatheable.  Oooh, now I'm just making stuff up.

 I love the sound of my keyboard clacking away - it means progress is being made.  Whether it's my words in this blog or their words that I'm shepherding, that sound is so relaxing and inspiring to me.  For a girl that generally doesn't like noise, that's saying something.

http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Chronicles-Books-ebook/dp/B003VYBEZW/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

Hey, I never claimed to be good with the HTML thing, ok??

Please check out Gary's first two novels of the Bridge Chronicles (above, for the bargain-basement price of $2.79 on Kindle - how can you beat that?).  Also there are short stories, and more interesting tidbits on his website:  http://amoralbridge.blogspot.com/

When I say, dear readers, that I think you will come to love Artemis Bridge despite his being a bastard of the first caliber, I truly mean it.  I hope you'll support one of the authors that has given me not only his patience but trusted me with the opportunity to edit his work.  Thanks, Gary. 
 
Officially published:  Reaper's Flight by Ren Cummins - available today on Kindle, or on createspace:

https://www.createspace.com/3479893

I am awfully proud to be associated with this fine work, and hope that you'll enjoy Ren's incredible tales.  Link to Amazon listing is forthcoming, pending some editing by the author! 

    About Jenna:

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