Jenel Looney on being a Writer’s Assistant

- by Lina Gardiner

WELCOME JENEL!  Thank you for joining us and popping in throughout the day to answer questions.

How did you become a virtual assistant? (What interested you in this job, etc.) It’d also be interesting to hear about your Masters in Writing.

I had a lot of weird and seemingly unrelated skills I’d picked up over the years in various jobs and schools. I had a Bachelor’s in Spanish, a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction, a paralegal certificate, a real estate degree. I knew a little graphic design and basic HTML from my time as a curriculum assistant in Saudi Arabia, working on the school system’s internal website, but I didn’t know enough to be a graphic designer or a website designer.

When I first started as a VA in 2008, I marketed myself to small businesses. But then Susan Mallery, a classmate and friend from Seton Hill University, hired me for a small project, and then for another, and soon, she committed to me as her assistant and recommended me to two of her friends, Kate Carlisle and Maureen Child. I am thrilled to specialize in author assistance. I couldn’t be happier.

Can you give us an overview of what virtual assistants do for their clients?

Every VA has different skills and expertise, so it will vary greatly. A good VA will help with all of those time-consuming extras that keep you from writing. Here are a few of the things I do for my clients:

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Writers’ New Year Resolution

- by Lina Gardiner

It’s a new year and most of us have some sort of plan for 2014, depending on whether we write by the seat-of-our-pants or we’re big-time organizers. I’m guessing these methods, or lack thereof, gravitate to organizational skills in other areas, as well.

What works for you? Do you have the year laid out? In your mind? On paper? Do you schedule time to write, to blog, to network? Or, do you work when your muse strikes?

It’d be interesting to note the differences in working style and productivity. It makes sense authors who treat their writing time as business hours are more productive and therefore, most likely, more successful… (Good thing you can’t see the guilty expression on my face right now, I’m a card-carrying pantser)

There have been chats on social media about organizational programs for authors, programs that plot and keep every scrap of information characterized, color coded and catalogued. Ways for the planners of the world to organize themselves. That kind of planning might seem over-taxing for pantsers. But, I have to wonder — who gets more work done? Probably not the pantsers. At least not in the organizational aspect of their day. But does it make a difference when it comes right down to writing?

It’d be an interesting survey.

Snow Days

- by Dianne Drake

IMG_0037IMG_0012 I watched the snow storm yesterday, and if left me with some odd questions.
1. Why did the store sell out of milk and bread? That’s a question I’ve never had answered.

Quick, run to the store for milk and bread, we’re having a blizzard! I, for one bought neither. In fact, my cart (I shopped on my usual shopping days) was filled with produce for the most part, a large chuck roast which I’ll grind into hamburger since all the hamburger was sold out, as well, a few staples that weren’t apparently popular with panic shoppers.

Ha! I even saw one poor soul pull a can of spotted dick off the shelf to read the ingredients. “Sorry dear, but they were out of milk and bread. I did manage to score this last can of spotted dick, though.”

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Marshall Field’s Christmas Memories

- by Patricia Rosemoor

Crimson DuetLast year, Entangled Publishing offered my two related holiday romantic suspense novels, HOLIDAY IN CRIMSON and NIGHTMARE IN CRIMSON, sold separately. This year, they are being offered together as CRIMSON DUET at a great discount.

As a child, I lived in the Chicago suburbs. I didn’t know much about the big city, nearly twenty miles away, except that I looked forward to Christmas, when Mom took me downtown to see the iconic Marshall Field’s windows on State Street.

When writing my holiday romantic mysteries, I wanted to use a department store like the one I loved as a child. I wanted to involve the Christmas windows. And I wanted the murder victim to be Santa Claus. As a matter of fact I killed him twice!

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