At a recent work-related conference, leonaI attended a fascinating workshop given by Dr. Wendi Lee Foltz.  Titled Generations at Work, the goals were to help understand the generations and learn how to work together more effectively.  We discussed the four generations in today’s workplace, and brainstormed about events that shaped their lives, molding them into who they are.

The WWII Generation, born before 1940, endured the Depression and World War II.  They are the value keepers, the traditionalists.

The Baby Boomers are post-WWII children who came of age during the VietNam War.  Rebellious in their youth, they went on to recreate the 60-hour work week.  College education for women started to become the accepted norm.

Generation X, children of the Baby Boomers, work to live.  They are unimpressed, want a fun environment, and value praise.

The Millenials, aka Gen Y, born after 1980, are entering the workplace, and only now are being defined.   They’ve grown up with computers in hand, and are achievement-oriented techies.

As a writer, I later wondered how these values influence what we read.  How do they determine what is popular in the marketplace, especially within the realm of romance novels?

In the last 100 years, rebecca-7894061we’ve gone from the early 20th century inspirational writings of Grace Livingston Hill, to Georgette Heyer who created the well-researched modern Regency, to Daphne DuMaurier and her stories of haunting romantic suspense.   DuMaurier led us into the realm of the historical and gothic romance – Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney.  Then came Kathleen Woodiwiss in the early 1970’s with a new type of historical romance, and the world of romance exploded into multiple sub-genres, each written to meet the needs of the generations.

This glimpse at various generations helped me beth-ciottaunderstand the WWII Generation’s love of Holt & Whitney’s modern gothic novel with their helpless appearing heroines and strong, brooding heroes.  It helped me, too, understand the emergence of Chick Lit – a sub-genre created by and for the fun-loving, intelligent Generation X’ers.  Loosening sexual standards has brought an increase in Erotica and, counter-acting that, more popularity for Inspirational reading.   Our to-be-read piles now hold everything from Scottish Highland historicals to witty Romantic Comedies.

What will be next?

→ Is your writing, or what you read, influenced by generational values?  Do you find yourself writing to what is popular, or what is true to you?

Business Cards

Early in my writing life, when I first joined NJRW, a writer spoke on the business part of writing.  You’ll need business cards, she said.  Keep them simple.  Show only essential information – name and contact details.  With a card you can begin networking.  You can keep in touch with other writers you meet at a conference.  You can enclose it in a thank-you note to a contest judge.  And, while an editor you meet may not ask for your card, you’re ready in case she does.

Despite early advice about keeping the cost down, I had my first card printed on high quality linen stock.  avery-business-cards1It was clean, classy, and included my personal home address – a no-no, I soon learned.  My email address was outdated a year so later when we changed internet providers.  Yeah, what was I thinking?  I ordered 500.   There are still about 459 aging nicely in my desk drawer.

I learned that it’s cheaper to buy paper and print the cards myself.  Avery has clean-edge business cards available online, or in office supply stores.   Using a template you can print your own card then break them up, 10 per sheet.  The clean edge looks much better than the mini-perforated edge cards, also available.  By printing your own cards before a conference, you can print only as many as you think you’ll hand out.  You can also personalize them for each use.

Keep in mind that your name is your brand.   That is what you want to be prominent on your card, whether you pay to have it printed or if you print it yourself.  Make sure the font is readable, and the card is not crowded.  Keep it orderly, professional.

I am still aspiring but I’ve written enough debs-card1novels to know the direction I’m taking.  A bit over a year ago, I contracted for a website design.  The design, by Stonecreek Media, Inc., captured my writing voice.  When I started Stringing Beads last June, I wanted to bring my website into it.   I customized this WordPress blog template with my copyrighted image from the top of my website.

A few months ago, I began thinking about upcoming conferences, especially WisRWA’s Write Touch (featuring Sherrilyn Kenyon) in June and RWA National in Washington, DC in July.  I wanted to bring my site image onto my business card as well.  Enter VistaPrint.  Going online, I designed a card using the image header Stonecreek had designed for me.  It didn’t take long, and the cost was low.  There are thousands of pre-designed template images also available.  This method worked for me.

If you are attending a conference or workshop this year, remember to make up some business cards to tuck in your bag.   Whether you use VistaPrint, PsPrint,, your local printer, or if you do it yourself on an Avery template, you’ll be glad you did.

→ As a fiction writer, do you have a business card?  What information do you put on the front?   Do you give out many cards when you go to conferences or workshops?   Has there ever been an occasion when you wished you had a card?  Please comment.

Tech Trek

When I was in high school,type-writer-girl-rv not quite so far back as when this photo was taken, I signed up for a typing course.  Not because I wanted to go into business but because, even then, I aspired to become a writer.  Naive though I was, I knew writers had progressed beyond the quills of Jane Austen’s time.  If I wanted to write, I knew I must learn to type.  My typing teacher, Mr. P., taught me the needed skills to produce neat term papers, skills that would later help pay my bills.

In my first office job, we typed on IBM Selectrics, a typewriter with correctable film ribbons, and ball elements for changeable fonts.

When our first son was born, ibm_selectric_ii_correcting_tape4I quit work to become a stay-at-home mom.  Over time, I typed family letters, essays, op-eds, and cookbooks at one end of our dining table on an IBM Wheelwriter.  Meanwhile, in the den, our growing sons played games on their Commodore 64, a cherished Christmas gift from Grandpa.

A few years later, we bought a CompuAdd 386.   With college tuition on the horizon, I soon returned to office work.  By then, I’d studied and was proficient in WordPerfect.   It was the last decade of the 20th century.  We were ready for a fast technological ride from mechanical hardware to mind boggling software.

Do you recall when you first heard the word Internet?   In scarcely an eye’s blink, this invisible web expanded hp-laptop2well beyond a science-fiction writer’s imaginings.   In less than a generation, we traveled from dial-up modems to WiFi.  Now, in seconds, we fling our thoughts around the world.

When I ponder how the Internet has influenced my writing life, I’m awed.   I email peers in Hawaii, Wisconsin, and New Jersey.  With a few clicks, we meet, critique, and hold online workshops.  We make travel arrangements then follow friends’ flights on flight tracking sites.   We email warm cyber hugs for a rejection, and cyber bubbly to celebrate a first sale.  On Yahoo Groups, we reach out for help to find the perfect word, to find a reputable book mark printer, or for the best way to kill off the bad guy.  And they answer!  Always, day or night, someone is there.

I am not a techie.  twitterEnglish and history were always my passion.   In Algebra, I wrote pages of poetry (still amazed I passed).  Yet, somehow, I’ve set up and maintain three blogs.  I buy and sell on e-Bay, am Linked-In, and visit YouTube.  I have friends who use FaceBook and MySpace, and others who Twitter (though not me…not yet…tweet).

Are we better writers than before this techno madness?  Who knows?  Future generations will decide the quality of our writing.  They will choose which books will endure.  I do believe that we are better connected than ever.  If that helps some struggling romance writer alone in Montana’s mountains to achieve more than she would have before the Internet, isn’t that a good thing?

→ How has technology and the Internet influenced your writing?  What do you most enjoy?  What do you find most frustrating?