Friday, September 4, 2015

Guest Post - Virtual Literary Assistant Yolanda L. Gore

As my guest this month, I'd like to introduce virtual literary assistant, Yolanda L. Gore, owner of The Literary Guru. Yolanda has some interesting information for those who have ever considered being a literary assistant. I think that authors will gain some valuable information as well. Enjoy! Marissa Monteilh

So You Want To Be a Virtual Assistant?

Hello everyone! My name is Yolanda L. Gore, and I’m a virtual assistant. I have actually graduated from the term “virtual” and I’m now considered a literary assistant, both in-person and online. I’m the owner of The Literary Guru. I help authors move to the next level. But most importantly, I help to get them through the day.

I’m often asked, “If I want to be a virtual assistant, what would I need to do? It looks so easy.” Or “How did you become a literary assistant?” To begin, I didn’t start out looking to be a virtual assistant in this business. I used both my Facebook and blog pages to promote authors for FREE. One day I received an inbox message from an author wanting me to assist her and another author. I worked hard to prove that I could do the work. I didn’t receive any training. Everything I learned, I learned on my own through tenacity, trial and error. I knew this was all part of God’s timing. I enjoyed the literary world and He was preparing me to become a business owner.

Being a virtual literary assistant is like any other job.  There are certain characteristics and work ethics that you need to possess, as follows:

1.       Passion - Is this something that you really want to do, or are you only looking to get paid? If it’s only about the money, you won’t succeed. I love what I do and I take great pride in it.

2.      Time and flexibility - Are you available day and night? Yes, day and night. Are you willing to be available on weekends and holidays? Authors are always working, even when they’re traveling. My office hours on paper are 8:30 am-4:30 pm M-F, EST, but for the most part, I work until I go to bed at night. And sometimes, I work from bed, responding to urgent texts or emails from authors.

3.      Trustworthiness - A lot of the information you’re privy to is confidential. Authors need to know that they can trust you. If you can’t keep their confidentiality, this isn’t the career for you.

4.      Accountability - You have to be accountable when things fall through the cracks. It happens. Own up to it, regroup, fix it, learn from it, and move on.

5.      A positive attitude and a tough skin - You will work with many people and you must be pleasant and positive because you represent your author. It’s their name that is at stake. You’re the “go-to” person. You’ll receive requests for author interviews, speaking engagements, book club discussions, etc. When corresponding with others, make sure your tone is always pleasant. Yes, there will be times when you’ll need to be the bad cop because you have to let individuals know if the authors are available or not, and some of the requestors might not be too pleased. Just make sure the author is the good cop.

6.      Organization: This is a big one. If you’re not good at staying organized, then this line of work definitely isn’t for you. You have to manage calendars, emails, as well as follow up on emails and phone calls, reminding authors of things that they need to do. If your life/office isn’t organized, how do you expect to keep someone else organized? You’re the other half of the author’s brain.

7.      Know the business - Last but definitely not least, be as knowledgeable and informed on as many aspects of the literary business as you can be. Stay on top of what is going on in the business as a whole. Do the work by researching and studying up on the ever-changing literary happenings; like bookseller policies, distributor requirements, promotional avenues, lists of publishers, book cover designers, book formatters, stay abreast of as many upcoming titles by other authors as possible, find out what is trending, learn specifics about future book events, new genres, procedures for ordering and uploading books, etc. Be ready to have an answer when asked, and if you don’t know, say you’ll find out, and know where to go to get the information as soon as possible. Even study up on the craft of writing. Be hungry and love the business enough to absorb every aspect like a sponge. Is this your passion?

These are some of the traits you must instill in yourself in order to be a successful virtual literary assistant.

I would like to thank Marissa Monteilh for inviting me to be a guest today. I am appreciative to all of the Novel Spaces authors for having me. I hope I’ve shared some valuable information.

If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached in the following ways:

Facebook: Facebook
Twitter: ILC1

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Parallels: Life Reflecting Art?

When I wrote the book, Hurricane of the Heart set in the beautiful island of Dominica, I never for a minute thought that what I penned would play out so vividly in reality.

Hurricane of the Heart is about American party animal, Kyle, and his polar opposite, Alia, an indigenous Dominican native whose love blossoms despite their differences when they are trapped on the island of Dominica during a powerful hurricane. The fictitious Hurricane Harriet which devastates the tiny island, plays an integral role in the story.

Hurricane of the Heart was released in July 2015. A month later, the island of Dominica was devastated by Tropical Storm Erica that left most of the island’s infrastructure under water and mud, at least twenty people dead, and residents stranded without food, electricity, and water. It occurred just two days before the anniversary of the most devastating hurricane to hit the island in recent history, Hurricane David in 1979.

Life imitating art, or just coincidence? 
There are so many parallels between what occurred in Dominica and what I wrote in the story that my husband, who hails from Dominica, keeps saying I jinxed them.

Douglas - Charles Airport under water
In my story, there was little time to prepare for the hurricane because it was supposed to pass north of Dominica, bypassing the nature isle. Somehow the storm changed course and hit the island, totally devastating it. In reality, Tropical Storm Erika was heading directly for the Leeward Islands north of Dominica. That morning, my husband awoke me to say that the storm was heading straight to St. Kitts, my home country. An hour later, the news began trickling in about the devastation in his home country. Then came the mad rush to establish contact with his family—his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings—who still reside on the island. Fortunately, they were ok, but their country wasn’t.

The photos and videos came pouring in of rivers running through streets taking with them cars, bridges, homes, schools, and unfortunately people. Many images showed  major landslides throughout the island, isolating villages, trapping residents.

Image result for Erika dominica airport
Douglas - Charles Airport under water
Major damage to air and sea ports and roads meant travel and aid distribution was severely impacted. The mountainous island with its 365 rivers depends on bridges to connect people. Many of the bridges had been washed away.  Communication was patchy at best.  My sister-in-law, here with me on vacation, tried frantically for days to get in contact with her relatives to no avail. Four days after the storm that is still the story of many people. The uncanny thing is that all of these experiences have been captured in my novel that I began writing over four years ago.