Then vs. Now: 1950s version

Writing three stories set in 1958 was as much a challenge in many ways as it was fun and different. There was so much research to do, despite the fact that I’ve always loved the fifties’ movies and music. I had to learn the slang, the fashions, and all about old-school Las Vegas. I drew on books, websites, and people’s recollections. I thought I’d share a little then vs. now with you today because the second book in my Viva Las Vegas trilogy, My Big Fat Vegas Wedding, is on pre-order and releases Tuesday.

Cool It, Daddio

The way of speaking was very different. People spoke a little more formally in most instances and their slang was very different. We know words like dude, lit, and on fleek. We all know what these words mean–by definition, slang is a shorthand way of speaking that changes the original meaning of the word(s).

Back in the 50s, people didn’t say someone was crazy–they said loony. A depressing person was “bad news,” a cool person was “hip,” and a clock was a “face.” I looked at some of those words and the meanings have changed today (“deuce” was a 1932 Ford) and some have remained the same, like when someone is being a “drag.”

Be a Man

Gender roles. Wow, as much as we bemoan how women haven’t come nearly far enough in equality (and we haven’t), the 1950s were an entirely different beast.

Back then, women went to college mainly to land a husband (if they hadn’t already done so in high school). Their studies weren’t important because they weren’t really expected to work and, if they did, it was usually only until they were married. A woman’s place was in the home, making sure her husband had a hot meal and his slippers. (I’m sorry, but gag me–his slippers!? Okay, back to the post.) Check out Housekeeping Monthly’s “Good Wife’s Guide.”

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.

Conversely, men were required to be masculine at all times. There was no place for crying or sentimentality in a man’s world. If someone stepped over the line, they were more likely to use violence to settle their differences. I’m definitely glad things have changed since then (albeit, again, not enough).

My Big Fat Vegas Wedding: Viva Las Vegas, Book 2

So, now, let’s talk about the book. It was fun to write alphas who could go a little farther into alpha territory without being a jerk because times were different. People had different expectations and ideas about what was acceptable. In this book, especially, my heroine is very much a woman of her time. Grace is classy, despite being poor, and has ideas about how to behave properly (which Dominic is constantly pushing her beyond). Here’s the blurb:

He needs roots. She needs money. A whirlwind wedding could solve all their problems…if it doesn’t bring the Vegas mob down on their heads.

Grace Winters needs a miracle in the form of cash. A young widow with a stack of bills and a dead-end job, she’d do anything to save herself, her son, and her mother from the street. Anything but gamble—the Vegas vice that got her husband killed.

Dominic Rosas needs a happy family—or at least the appearance of one—to buy out his father’s shares in the Lucky Star Casino, ousting the vicious man and avenging his sister. When he finds himself wildly attracted to a down-on-her-luck waitress with a stubborn will and a sharp sense of humor, a hasty marriage seems the obvious solution to both of their problems.

To Grace, Dominic seems too good to be true, a kind man with money to burn and an inner strength a world away from her gambling-addicted husband. They share a spark she’s never felt before, giving her hope that maybe this time marriage might work. But when she finds out he’s investing in the Lucky Star, the mob casino where her husband gambled away their future, the dream crashes around her. Dominic swears he can invest in the casino, avenge his sister, and keep her safe, but Grace fears she’s placed her bets on the wrong man—again.

Find it on Goodreads.

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An Exclusive Excerpt

The house was small and old. The steps up to the porch were crumbling away. Dominic tried to get his pitch ready in his head, like he would for work, but the words all jumbled together. Odd, because he never got nervous before a big pitch.

Grace came back with two glasses. He took one and sipped because his throat had suddenly gone dry. Water with a faint taste of lemon did nothing for his parched throat. Somehow, he still pushed forward.

“I need roots,” he said.

“I don’t know what that means.” She shook her head. Of course she did, because that didn’t make any sense. He was starting at the end instead of the beginning.

He paused, trying to decide where, exactly, to begin. “Let me sum up what I know about you. Please, Grace.”

With a slow breath, she glanced inside the quiet house, then gave him a terse nod.

Okay, he could do this. “You’re a widow, trying to care for your son and mother. Your son is a handful, probably because he doesn’t have a father around.”

Her eyes flashed. He’d made her angry, but he was too far in to stop now. He went on. “You can’t seem to make ends meet, no matter how hard you try. And you always look fragile and exhausted. Am I wrong?”

“I’m not fragile. If I were fragile, I would’ve broken by now. But other than that…no. You’re not wrong. What is this?”

“Please, listen. Let me tell you about me. I have more capital—money—than I’ll ever use because my grandfather was brilliant at investing it.”

“How lovely for you.”

And, I’m trying to buy into the company my father uses for income because he tried to steal from my sister. Worse than that. He tried to have her put away.”

“I remember.” Her voice was soft as she picked up her untouched lemonade, then took a drink.

“They turned me down. They want me, but only if I’m married—a family man.” He took a deep breath. This was it. “I want yours. I want you.”

She stood, stumbling a little on the table legs. “That’s crazy. You should go.”

“No, it’s perfect.” He rose and took a step closer. “We each need what the other has. I can take care of all of you. I’ll buy you a nice house. You can pick it out. You said you didn’t want eventful, but I don’t believe you. You need eventful or you won’t make it.”

Still Not Sure?

You can read the first chapter here. Until next month, I’m wishing you all a happy and proper Spring (with maybe a little less snow?)

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Get Caught Up in the Fifties #MFVB

It’s been two years since I wrote the post about the resources I used to write my trilogy of novellas set in Las Vegas, 1958. Yesterday, the first book debuted and I can’t tell you how much I love these stories.

1958 Las Vegas. She can ruin his career. He can save her freedom. What’s a little blackmail between strangers?

Layla Rosas has been burned too many times—by her cheating ex, her narcissist mother, and now her father who’ll put her in an asylum, for good this time, if she can’t settle down and be a good girl. She needs a quality boyfriend—now—to convince her dad she’s back on the straight and narrow.

Jace Russell is good at his job: keeping the wealthy elite who visit his casino safe and happy. When a photographer snaps career-ending shots of a client, it’s Jace’s duty to do whatever it takes to stop those photos from hitting the press.

Layla didn’t intend to take compromising shots, but that doesn’t mean she won’t use them. When Jace realizes a few fake dates are all she wants in exchange for the negatives, he’s all in—with the added agenda of getting the crazy but beautiful woman between his sheets. But Layla refuses to gamble her heart on the toe-curling kisses of a fake boyfriend. It’s just a few dates. How hard can it be?

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iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

You can find the first chapter on my website, here.

Fashion plays a big role in my stories because women looked a lot different back then they do now. I can assure you, no one went to the department store in their PJs. For one thing, they had bullet bras, which made the breasts appear to be rather… cone shaped. Think Madonna, but less extreme. Then there were the capris, the pencil skirts, the sweater sets, and the side-button jeans. You can learn all about these staples from the fifties here.

(Fun fact: in edits, my wonderful editor asked me about side-buttons jeans–had I meant to make them jeans? I sent her a link to these retro jeans you can buy from Freddies of Pinewood in the UK. Clothes then were just so much fun!)

And then, there was the lingerie. In the first scene, my heroine’s horrible mother comes downstairs, hair in a bouffant, dressed in an ankle-length negligee and a robe with a full circle skirt. The next day, Mom comes out in a sinfully scant bikini. Which probably looked more like this one from ModCloth than the barely-there bikinis of today.

Can you tell I absolutely reveled living in this world? I hope you’ll check it out and you’ll enjoy visiting as much as I did.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Anniversary Sale #99cents

A year ago, my first book ever, Infamous, was published. It’s been exciting but also a big learning experience. There’s so much we need to know about marketing a book, especially with a small press publisher.

Recently, I contracted the second book in what is now called the Falling Stars series. Because all the characters are either celebrities in their own right or family of celebrities. And…they’re falling in love. Every last one of them, no matter how hard they fight it. The second book is titled Scandalous.

Also I’ve been working on the third and final book. It’s titled Notorious. I am neck deep in this world I created, a mish-mosh of New York City and quaint small towns. I’m so excited to be wrapping this series up because I get to give everyone happy endings. I feel like Oprah.

To celebrate, Infamous is on sale now through January 19th. I’ll include buy buttons at the bottom of this post, if you’re so inclined. It’s reduced from $5.99 to only 99 cents! If you’ve ever been curious about this story, now is the time to check it out. And get pumped, because book 2 will (I believe) be out later this year.

xoxo

Justine’s infamous for a leaked sex tape, her mom mortgaged the family home, and her ruthless father offers her a job in show business.

Enter Sawyer, Justine’s new co-producer. There’s a spark between them they can’t deny. Will they risk everything for a love neither expected?

Can’t find your preferred retailer or need to know more before you buy? Check out the book page on my site, lorisizemore.com.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

O.M.G. Kittens!

Get ready for the cute.

I have a bag that says “One cat short of crazy cat lady.” I have surpassed that mark. I am officially a crazy cat lady.

My family got a new kitten. This makes two cats and two dogs in my household. It’s ridiculous and yet… I can’t imagine life without them. She sleeps with my youngest daughter. She climbs up on my chest and kneads me, purring madly. She’s adorable and wild. And we feel so good that we’re able to give her a forever home.

However, one member of the household isn’t as thrilled as the rest of us. Meet Farrah Pawcett–my first cat. She’s pampered and sweet. She never scratches or bites.

Except now, she walks around growling menacingly at the kitten, and swatting her away if she gets too close. Now, I know that if Farrah wanted to hurt Harley (that’s the kitten–my kids named her Harley Quinn and I thought, “Why not?”), then she would. She’d scratch or bite her.

She doesn’t do that, but she is agitated by this new addition. I’m hoping she’ll start feeling more comfortable with the kitten, and less annoyed, and maybe they can coexist, like in this last picture. (Farrah was asleep when Harley snuck up to sleep beside her.)

I’ve been asking everyone with any cat experience if there’s anything I can do to help this process along. Do you have any advice? Or funny stories to share about your pets? I’d love to hear from you!


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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

When Your Writing Misses the Mark

This post is for the writers. The aspiring authors, the seasoned veterans.

Sometimes, you write a story and it just flows. It comes together like it has a life of its own, fully-formed and perfect. This isn’t about those times.

Because even when you have those stories, you’ll also have stories that are just… off. They’re missing something, the something that makes them a story worthy of telling.

Maybe it’s your structure or conflict. For me, it was an under-developed character.

I couldn’t figure out: how did this happen to me? Me, who spends a month or two pre-writing. Polishing characters’ histories, their GMC, plotting out a story based on those things before ever putting fingers to keyboard and executing. I spend as much time pre-writing as I do writing the first draft.

But, there was no denying that’s exactly where my story was at. The bad news came from my editor. (Mistake number one–I was in a hurry and didn’t have it beta read by my trusted critique partners before submission.) My heroine’s backstory and motivation were… weak.

I couldn’t believe it. In the weeks following my grandmother’s death, I’d written Exactly Like You, edited it, submitted it, and it was published in June. It was one of the aforementioned stories–it just flowed together perfectly, seamlessly.

How could I have done that so well and missed the mark so completely in the other story? For one, I didn’t dig for backstory and motivation. I latched onto the first idea that came to me. The first idea is never the best idea–don’t let anyone tell you any different. (This would be mistake number two, in case you’re counting.)

I revised and then sent it out for beta with two very smart CPs (all my critique partners are smart, but I digress). They came back with the same verdict–I’d missed that mark again. She was still underdeveloped. Her motivation wasn’t quite believable. That’s what happens when you try to make your character fit your story rather than the other way around. (That, friends, is mistake number three.)

I’m very happy to say that I conferred with one of my CPs, sending her five pages of notes to address the specific issues she called out, then had another CP take a look at my opening and made adjustments again. This had become the story that would not live.

But I wasn’t giving up. All is well now (I hope–it’s been resubbed to my editor, so we’ll see). I can tell you that I don’t think there’s much more of me left for that story. If it’s not enough? This may become one of those stories bound for the far reaches of my hard drive.

I wish I had a happy ending, but don’t all the true life-lesson stories end ambiguously? Take what you can from this, writers. Dig into that back story, then dig some more. Don’t skimp on character, ever.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Birthday Gifts for the Reader in Us All

This month is my birthday. I’ll be 43, a rather middle of the road, nice-early-forties birthday. No biggie. Which is all the more reason to celebrate by sharing some monumentally cool gift ideas for the reader in your life–you, me, whoever!

Romeo and Juliet Cover Earrings

I’m not a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet. They were too young and it’s not a romance by any stretch of the imagination–Happily Ever After, anyone?

All the same, when I came across these earrings, I couldn’t resist how beautiful they were. And, hey. It’s Shakespeare and a classic. We’ll bend just a little to own these beauties.

Romance Novel Notebook

I’ve had my eye on one of these for years and I think I may just indulge myself this time…

Who doesn’t love 80s romance novel covers? They remind me of the books my grandmother devoured a book a day. I never read this one, but it speaks to the nostalgia in me, plus it’s spiral bound. It’d be perfect for dropping in your purse to jot down notes.

By the way, what is she wearing? A pantsuit? In denim blue? Clearly at work, since there’s a desk and that ginormous leather briefcase in her hand. And, seriously? That hair. Bangs for the win!

Jane Austen Pendant Necklace

Getting serious again, I absolutely love this necklace. The quote rings true for any avid reader and, come on–it’s beautiful. I’d be happy to wear this anywhere. And, honestly, for $14.18, it’s a steal!

 

Literary Cofee Mug

Last but not least, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include a mug. You may not know, but I collect mugs and hang them all around my kitchen. I also collect mugs just for drinking. It is such a great way to start my day by asking myself, which mug will I start the day out with? Is that weird?

Anyway, I love this quote. It’s a shoutout to book lovers and a demand to be accepted on our own terms. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Did you see anything you just had to have? If so, let me know in the comments, share your finds, or even your own cool book lover swag. I’m all about the book swag.

Have a great July!

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    Cyn D. Blackburn's Wrapped Up in You releases on November 13. *** The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series were released in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous was released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, A PROPOSAL & PUMPKIN PIE is on sale for .99 through Thanksgiving.