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.

Want to pre-order?

Amazon | iBooks | Google Play | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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.

Cupid’s Cafe: The Journey Continues

Greetings friends!

Today is the launch of my new release, Painting For Keeps, a contemporary romance and matchmaking story. If you haven’t noticed Cupid and matchmaking are in the air for the month of June, as Lori and I have both have releases that are part of Afterglows Publishing Kismet Line. Want to read more about Lori’s own contemporary romance you can check out her post here.

My book is a second-chance, matchmaking romance about a recovering bulimic nutritionist who’s getting over being dumped by her cheating boyfriend and the bi-polar, brooding painter who seeks to help the only muse for his art. This is the second book in the Cupid’s Cafe series. The first book, Lori’s Exactly Like You, is available now.

A refresher, Cupid’s Cafe is a fictional, magical place set in Louisville, KY off Bardstown Rd. You can catch a more detailed post on the live research Lori, myself, and Cate, the series creator, did in preparation for this series. Each couple is granted a ‘second-chance’ at romance via Cupid, through a handwritten invitation to the cafe. The couples have always met in the past somehow and both hero and heroine have reached their limit or they don’t believe themselves capable of love due to what issues they suffer from.

Painting For Keeps

An invitation to Cupid’s Café will change your life. 

 

Agatha, Aggie, Kakos lost her boyfriend, her apartment, and now, is one brownie bite away from purging her binge when an invitation to Cupid’s Café shows up on her doorstep. Fighting bulimia and her mother’s constant verbal abuse has never been easy, but this nutritionist is determined to be stronger than her weakest link. She’ll meet a secret admirer at Cupid’s for a morale booster if nothing else.  

 

Following a break-in and the destruction of his paintings, starving artist Murphy O’Shea finds himself at wit’s end. Not only does he need to create twelve more paintings, but in the midst of another manic depressive episode, the challenge seems impossible. He’s got two months or he’ll have to cancel his first show. The Cupid’s Café invite offers him a chance to find his muse. He doesn’t expect it to be the woman he’s mirrored the past two year’s paintings on, nor does he plan on being able to offer Aggie the help she needs.  

 

Can they find a way to conquer their inner demons or will they succumb to the idea they aren’t worth a happily ever after?

 

Buy now : Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

 

This is the second book in the Cupid’s Cafe series, a Kismet book, from After Glows Publishing. Would you be interested in writing for this series? Email me at landra (dot) graf (7) (at) gmail (dot) com.

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

What, Romance? via TL Reeve

Good morning everyone! Thank you for having me here today at the Through Heart Shaped Glasses blog!

I have a confession to make. I’m not a romance writer.

Shocking… I’ll give you a second. Go ahead. Catch your breath.

*Grabs a cup of coffee*

Good to go now? Awesome.

Back to what I was saying. I’m not a romance writer. See, I create stories to fit around the romance. If it happens? Great. If not? Great. My characters have lives. They’re like you and me. They don’t go out of their way to seek out a mate or a partner or what have you. It kind of just happens.

For Jupiter Baldwin, she has a career, she has her pack and she is quite comfortable with herself and her situation. However, in her little world, though she sees her pack, she doesn’t consider the realities of what they need.

That’s where her father steps in.

Though he might be a bit of a hard ass, he knows things need to be fixed and he’s willing to do whatever it takes… at Jupiter’s expense.

This is where it gets complicated, and where I usually torture people. Because of a pact her father made, Jupiter has to choose between five men. Yes, five, and mate one of them to take over the pack.

But, what if she can’t choose?

What if she doesn’t want to try?

Well…I guess you’ll have to stay tune and find out. *wg*

To find out what happens to Jupiter and her men, check out Jupiter’s Shadow available now at: Books2Read

Jupiter’s Shadow by TL Reeve

Jupiter “Pip” Baldwin, isn’t ready to settle down and produce heirs for the Sequatchie Pack. As the Alpha’s daughter and only child, she is destined to continue his bloodline, while allowing her mate to lead the pack—an archaic rule of the collective Smoky Mountain Wolves packs.

On her thirty-second birthday, five men will be presented to her for choosing. It’s not about love in her pack. It’s about power. When each man reveals who they are, and what they’re capable, Jupiter finds herself in over her head.

Will she be able to narrow down her choices, to the perfect “match,” or will Jupiter find she can’t let any of them go?

Change is coming to the Sequatchie pack, and Jupiter must blaze the trail…

Excerpt:

“As we speak, three members of our pack have begun the journey to the Chickamauge, Nickajack, and Conasauge pack lands. When the chosen female has picked her mate, those not chosen will return to their homes.”

What in the hell had my father signed up for? “What?”

Echo glanced down at me and gave a quick shake of his head. “Allow me to introduce Jupiter’s suiters.” He motioned to each person as he said a name. “Meet Bowie, Benning, Mace, and Scout. You already know Dax.”

I looked to my best friend. I couldn’t believe he would go through with this and not tell me. Anger followed by a heady dose of humiliation surged through my veins. “Why?”

He wouldn’t say anything. He left me floundering as my dad continued his speech and explained the rules. “If you see them with Jupiter, please allow them to get to know each other. Do not interfere.”

Because I am a prude like that. I couldn’t believe my father. Why? Why would he do this? I got it—thirty-two, no mate and no pups to carry our line. But this…he was way out of line putting me on the spot, treating me like a piece of meat to be passed around.

He held his hand out to me and I hesitated for a moment before taking it. I should have let him flounder. It would have served him right. I was his daughter, not a commodity. “Now, Jupiter will continue her night alone with her suitors to get to know them. There will be refreshments and drinks for another few hours for you to enjoy on this special occasion.”

No one moved. I think they were all just as shocked as I was. I cleared my throat and gave each man a once over. How the hell would I pick one guy over the next? In truth, my wolf enjoyed this—a little too much.

“Take us to your home,” Bowie said, breaking the silence between us.

I quirked a brow. “Excuse me?” They should be lucky I hadn’t torn any of them apart.

“I think this conversation should happen where no one can listen in,” he added. “Don’t you?”

He had a point. “Fine. I walked. It’s not far from here.”

They formed a semi-circle around me and followed as I made my way back through town. “Are you being forced to do this?” Okay, so I couldn’t wait for us to get back to the house to start asking questions.

“No,” Mace grunted. His disposition didn’t throw off the cute and cuddly vibes, in fact, he reminded me of a pissed off shark.

Did it make me the chum?

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Cupid’s Cafe: Welcome to the Creator

Hello, Through Heart-Shaped Glasses Readers!

By now you’ve enjoyed Lori’s post about the series her and I are a part of along with her amazing book, Exactly Like You, that’s releasing on June 20th. Lori and I wish we could take the credit for this fantastic idea of a series, but of course, we can’t. No, the honor belongs to the fabulous Catherine Peace and I convinced her to agree to an interview on the series.

Just a few questions mind you, Catherine is a busy woman working on her own Cupid’s Cafe story.

First up, as the mastermind behind this series, where did the idea for the series come from?

Dang, already with the tough questions! 🙂 Well, here is where we get a little deep. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life before I even had a name for them. I hit a….really bad patch a couple years ago that led me down a rocky road to treatment, which involved group therapy five days a week. The first day in my therapy group, it was the last day of a man who was a recovering meth addict. And he talked about his ex-girlfriend who’d cheated on him and treated him terribly because of his addiction and a couple other mitigating factors, and he said, “I guess I don’t deserve to be loved.” My heart shattered, and I looked at him and said, “You’re wrong.” I don’t think he expected that, especially from the newbie, but it’s true. People deserve love by virtue of being people. It doesn’t matter the background, the road, the ups and downs and mistakes and victories. People deserve to be loved and treasured. So in a way, this series came from wanting to prove him wrong and prove wrong people who have that same thought pattern. It’s nothing more than a lie.

Wow! I remember tearing up myself when you told me that story, and that’s when I fell in love with your idea too. That being said, what is your goal for the series?

Kind of what I said in my last answer, to show that people deserve to be loved and treasured. In a way, this series came from wanting to prove the guy from therapy wrong and prove wrong people who have that same thought pattern. It’s nothing more than a lie, but it’s one of the easiest to believe. I want to show people like him, people like me, that we’re not too broken to have worth and value. And hopefully, show them–us–that we’re able to rise above the challenges if we allow ourselves to be loved. It’s not that people don’t love and care and want the best for us. It’s that we simply cannot fathom it. 

Now, the series is set where you live, do you think that make things easier from a research standpoint?

In a way, yeah. The fun thing about Louisville is that it’s SUCH a diverse city. My roommate and I talk all the time about the racial and cultural diversity just in our apartment complex, and you can find that all over the city. It has its problems with racial violence and drug abuse, but it also has opportunities to offer people. It’s a city of entrepreneurs and small business owners, tattoo shops and music stores and SO. MUCH. FOOD. Dear Lord, I could set 50 different series here and never reuse an idea. My roomie works at a health clinic that caters to the homeless, and she’s able to help them in a way she never truly expected. I love this city. It still has small town charm regardless of being a metro, a lot of opportunities, and a lot of idea fodder. 

How do you think this series differs from other matchmaking romance series out there?

To me, it’s the focus on characters with mental health issues. Considering my own, I’ve noticed a lack of representation for people like me. I’ve seen a few that touch on PTSD, but it’s mostly these gruff Alpha dudes and these badass bitch ladies, and while that has its place, there’s STILL a need to open up the dialogue about mental health. Still, a need shed light on it, especially with what’s going on in the world now and how stressful it is. The characters in these stories are people who are at the ends of their ropes, people who need One Good Thing to give them hope. To help them see they’re worthy of love, of help. These aren’t going to be fluffy stories, I know. They’re dark. They’re tough. But they’re worth it. 

If any one of these stories helps someone, they’re more than worth it.

The first two books in the Cupid’s Cafe series are coming this month. Be sure to check out Exactly Like You and Painting For Keeps. If you’re interested in writing for the series reach out to Landra at landra (dot) graf (7) (at) gmail (dot) com

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Call Me Cupid via Gina Wynn

Just Call Me Cupid

Thank you to the lovely ladies at Heart Shaped Glasses for letting me loose on their blog.

I have a confession to make. I, too, am a romance writer. But, seriously, writing a romance is more difficult than it sounds. It isn’t just a matter of putting two characters on a page, getting them to mash face and calling a happy ever after. Some days, getting two characters to even maintain a ‘happy for five minutes’ is an achievement. And anything less than chemistry won’t cut it for a reader. They need to believe in the romance, feel the sizzle, and know that those two characters, no matter what the storyline throws at them, are ultimately destined to end up together.

I suppose it’s a bit like finely tuned matchmaking. It’s about knowing which character traits will appeal to the heroine, or a hero, and playing with those. In some ways, it’s about creating a perfect partner. I’m joking, of course. We all know that perfect doesn’t exist. But I can get it fairly close. 😉 In a book, it’s about the dance of flirtation and desire, and stage-managing two people together in a believable way. I keep saying two but, you can insert your own magic number.

Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction, and affection, and that pretty accurately sums up the romance writer’s playground. The characters, whether in a sweet or steamy romance, have to experience a crush or lust before that ramps up to love and forever.

On top of that (heh) the best romances also coax the reader to fall a little bit in love with at least one of the characters or at the every least root for them. If at the end of reading one of my stories, a reader tells me how much they loved one of my characters and claims them as theirs, I’ve done my job. I’m Cupid, and I am a god.

Available now from the Kismet line of After Glows Publishing:

Two By Two by Gina Wynn

A match made in…outer space.

When things at Absolution, the bar on space station The Salvation, take a turn for the strange, witch Penelope Hardacre is thrust into the wacky world of matchmaking. Without the meddling of bar owner Geraldine’s alternate personality, Gerald, it should have all been so easy. But, weres with weres, vamps with vamps, fairies with fairies… Penny’s ordered to pair them all without choice. Is she willing to compromise all of her morals to maintain her safety from Gerald, and what should she do with her best friend Vincent—the kind of fanged best friend who makes her feel safe and loved…and jealous? On The Salvation, two by two won’t be quite what Noah had in mind.

Like what you see, grab your copy: Amazon ~ Kobo

Excerpt:

She steeled herself against another sneeze until her eyes watered, then she shook her head. The creeping, crawling irritation under her skin brought a wave of reminders of spells gone wrong because of the distraction of a sudden itch or sneeze she couldn’t stifle.

“Not at all. I can’t imagine you’d know the difference between a therapist and a hooker because I have no doubt your claims of experience—no, expertise—as a lurve machine are much exaggerated.” She plucked the lemon wedge from the edge of his glass and bit into the flesh as she wrinkled her nose again.

His gaze danced over her face, and his eyes flashed with either amusement or danger…or desire.

She shivered a little in the warm room.

“Just let it go, silly girl. Sneezes are like orgasms. An unstoppable force—though hardly a…delight.” He watched another drip making its way back to his drink from his nail, apparently bored with their conversation.

But she knew better. “Whatcha drinkin’, my vampire friend?” She cooed the words as she twirled her hair around her finger in a playful gesture designed to annoy him as much as he’d irritated her, and nearly let loose a giggle as his expression turned sour.

“My drink.”

“Which is…?”

His eyes flared red for a second at her words. “Something you wouldn’t like.”

“Perhaps you mistake my love of tomatoes.” She kept her flirtatious tone in place and leant to rest her hand on his arm.

He bumped his fist against the table. “Keep your voice down, angelcakes. Can’t a man abide by his principles in peace?”

Glancing out at the dark sky and the pin-prick stars stretching into the unknown distance, she sighed. “A man, Vincent? I thought you’d got over that pipe dream.”

“I am a man.” He ground out the words.

“You’re a vegan vampire, trapped on an old heap of a space station for maybe the rest of your days. That’s a long time.” She spared a look for his tomato juice. “Although maybe not quite so long if you were to give in to your basic instincts and get rid of anyone who annoyed you—which is everyone. At least then you’d be alone with your indignity and plant-based thirst-quenchers.”

He let loose a short, mirthless laugh. “Just me, you, and tomatoes. And you’re a witch who can’t do magic without sneezing and breaking out in an itchy rash.” He shrugged at her, his grin rueful. “What a pair we make.”

What a pair indeed.

One last thing: The Salvation has been opened up as a multi-author world. To play on board The Salvation, please check the details on this page. 🙂 Thank you.

 

 

 

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

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