Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blogiversary Guest Post: Smart Romance with Gail Ward Olmsted, author of Jeep Tour



Smart Romance

I have done some amazingly foolish things in the name of love. Unprintable, unspeakable, cringe-worthy things. Haven’t we all? In my younger days, I compromised way more than I should have, put up with some exceedingly bad behavior and exhibited my share of it as well, accepted way less than I deserved, told lies, mostly but not entirely little white ones and accepted the lies of others. I sat by the phone, back when the phone sat in the middle of my house. I cancelled plans with family and dear friends in order to be available for the man of the moment and I have fallen in and out of love, or at least what I assumed was love, more times than I can count. Although I’ve been happily married and very much in love for over 30 years, I can still recall just how crazy love could make me. But I survived it and the whole experience made me stronger and smarter. I value what I have today, in part, because I didn’t always have it.

I use the term ‘smart romance’ on my website and on my business cards. It’s part of my brand, if you will. But is ‘smart romance’ really anything more than an oxymoron? Is all romance fiction? Something that Hallmark created in order to sell some cards?

Let’s look at the facts. Half of all marriages apparently end in divorce and 100% of all divorces started out as a marriage. With odds like that, is it unreasonable to believe in lasting love? Think about it. We fall in love. The use of the term "fall" implies that the process is somewhat uncontrollable, dangerous - as in "falling ill" or "falling into a trap" - and that love makes the lover somehow vulnerable. Is vulnerability why our heart breaks when a romance ends? Does love make us weak? But maybe it’s not our fault. Can we really help who we fall in love with? It causes chemical reactions, love does. Measurable increases in oxytocin and vasopressin. One medical expert suggests that "when we fall in love, we are falling into a stream of naturally occurring amphetamines running through the emotional centers of our brains." Yikes. Maybe we’re all just a bunch of love junkies out there looking for a fix. We’re suckers for a good love story. Perhaps that’s why ‘love’ is such a popular theme in film, music and books. Romance, women’s fiction, chick-lit- however you want to label it, these stories celebrate love in all of its’ glory. But in modern romance, it’s usually not all about surrender or falling, it’s more about choices and soaring. The majority of stories focus on relationships that are truly win-win, where both parties ultimately triumph.

I’m in the process of writing my fourth novel. All in the same genre- contemporary women’s fiction with a strong dose of romantic love. My main characters always fall in love and don’t always act rationally, but does the presence of love require an absence of rational thought? I don’t think so. I think smart romance is alive and well, and I think believing in love and romance is smart. In my first novel JEEP TOUR, Jackie reboots her whole life after a chance meeting with a sexy stranger. Maybe she would have moved cross-country even if she hadn’t met Rick, but I doubt it. She was willing to take a leap of faith in the hope that she would find her happy ever after. What she actually finds is something she never could have imagined.
In Guessing at Normal, Jill joins a rock and roll band on the road after a one night stand with the bad boy lead singer. To be fair, their one night stand actually lasted almost three whole days, but what kind of loony tunes would give up the security of a crappy job, a lousy apartment and the very conditional love of her very dysfunctional family to follow some sexy rockstar? A smart woman? Hmmm. Maybe. And in Driving on the Left (coming soon- this summer) Becca’s fling with a strapping Irish tour guide leads her into a series of decisions that some would view as crazy, but only time will tell. Sometimes you just don’t know, until you do. I haven’t gotten too far on my 4th book, but trust me. There will be smart women making foolish choices and figuring things out along the way.


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