Love in the Summer of Our Lives

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Proud to celebrate the big 5-0 in the treasured company of family and friends.

If you know me well – or even if you don’t but you’re good at reading between the lines – you’re probably aware that one of my current life challenges involves moving past the emotional fallout from my recent divorce.

It’s been about nine months since we signed the papers. Every day is a little better than the last. Once in a while, I do slip into a pit. Sadness is a persistent companion but not, in my estimation, a bad one. Tears cleanse the heart, and I’m fortunate to count on the ready support of friends and family, who never fail at making me smile.  There’s always a rainbow to be found after the storm; a shaft of sunshine on a cloudy day.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been coaching myself toward a new project: In baby steps and occasional leaps of faith, I’m opening myself up to the idea of dating. This has precipitated no small amount of reflection on what what “dating” means in the context of my independent, middle-aged existence. Many expectations of my 20s and 30s now beg to be thrown out the window. Not because I’m any less capable or less deserving of love and passion, but because the hopes and fears I had back then don’t seem all that relevant now.

Listen to one conversation between twenty-something women in a coffee shop, and you might understand what I mean. Been there. Done that. Not going back, thank you very much.

Once we reach the summer of our lives, that youthful drive to twist ourselves into the shape of our partner’s expectations has all but disappeared. We no longer search for the One who will give “meaning” to our lives. Men, for all their charms, do not wield the same power over the sum total of our future – in part because we no longer grant them that power.

Questions of life style, children, and career paths have all been settled. We’re comfortable with who we are and no longer stress as much about who we want to be or where we’re going in life.

Okay, we are planning for retirement, which carries its own brand of stress. But that’s logistics, not romance. And logistics are always less complicated when you’re planning for one.

After a divorce – or two – the myth of ‘forever love’ hardly seems worth sustaining. We know from experience how much joy and pain love inevitably brings. Having lived through the triumphs and sorrows of a true relationship, we are less inclined to sacrifice our personal truth just to be with someone. Compromise carries its rewards, but it never guarantees the future. Understanding this inspires us to focus on our own dreams, even as we occasionally welcome the presence of another who chooses to walk the same path with us.

Despite this awareness that relationships can never play the same role they once played, a very primordial need for companionship drives me back toward the dance. It’s human nature, after all. We are social creatures. We want to enjoy the good things in life in the company of others, to engage in loving and intimate relationships.

As I turn away from the past and embrace the future, I hear voices of conflict in my head. 50-something me and 20-something me sit at a table in that imaginary coffee shop, arguing about how dating and relationships are supposed to work. 20-something me clings to old expectations and insists on what she considers reliable norms of courtship. 50-something me doesn’t want to hear it. Instead, she strives to reinvent herself, to enjoy the fruits of a life well-lived, to remain open to romance but not particularly dependent on it.

She looks out the door that has been opened to her, and suspects that this might very well be the best period of a woman’s life to date.

Confidence, maturity, and independence; wisdom shaped by experience. Twenty-five years ago, I didn’t have these tools or if I did, I hadn’t yet refined them. I didn’t understand just how much was within my rights to demand, and just how many sources of joy and fulfillment can be found outside of a relationship.

How does the old saying go? I wish I knew then what I know now.

Whether by accident or design, “then” is now once again. And all that knowledge I wish I had had? It’s mine, hard-earned and ready to be put to good use.

The time has arrived to play by my own rules.


The Goodreads giveaway for EOLYN, Book One of the Silver Web, is ongoing. Five signed copies are up for grabs. Visit Goodreads or click on the link below to enter, and good luck! 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

Eolyn

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends April 16, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway: EOLYN

Eolyn cover flat2 reduced 1 22 16To celebrate the imminent release of Daughter of Aithne, Book Three of The Silver Web, I’m hosting a Goodreads giveaway of the first book in series: Eolyn.   

“A tale of female oppression, prejudice, and even deadly seduction, Eolyn touches on issues that are deeply relevant in our own society. At times both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, the story warns young women about the ways in which the world will try to take advantage of them—but it does so in a way that never denies them their magic.” – Apex Reviews

In a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a ruthless purge of the magas. Eolyn, last daughter of the magas and sole heiress to their forbidden craft, seeks refuge in the South Woods. When she meets the mysterious Akmael, heir to the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of hope, seduction, betrayal, and war. Desire draws Eolyn toward Akmael’s dark embrace, but fate binds her to Corey of East Selen, a cunning mage whose ambition challenges the limits of love and loyalty.

Can she trust either man?

Hunted in a realm of powerful wizards and brutal deceptions, Eolyn must find her own path to freedom or she will burn on the pyre.

Five signed copies are up for grabs; the giveaway ends on April 16. Click on the link below or visit Goodreads to enter. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

Eolyn

by Karin Rita Gastreich

Giveaway ends April 16, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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One woman’s journey determines the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

When the Old Becomes New Again

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The release of Daughter of Aithne will kick off with 2-week tour of 28 blogs, organized by Bewitching Book Tours.

I’ve been busy with final preparations for the release of Daughter of Aithne on May 1, including scheduling of blog tours and book blasts.

Blog tours often involve interviews and guest posts. I find interviews easier to complete than guest posts, so when preparing for a tour, I always start with the interviews (which often, in turn, give me ideas for blog posts).

I enjoy interviews; the questions asked compel me to reflect on the writers journey and the why’s and how’s of my latest novel. Sometimes I even gain unexpected insights about my own work.

My current set of interviews have me thinking a lot lately about why I wrote The Silver Web trilogy, including this third and final installment, Daughter of Aithne. I’ve realized that what seemed rather mundane and obvious just one year ago – writing a fantasy where powerful women call most of the shots – has now become something new and daring once again.

I’m not happy about this, because it’s a result, in part, of the social and political climate that has gripped our country. A short six months ago, I imagined Daughter of Aithne would be published in a world accustomed to seeing women run nations. I saw Eolyn’s fictional realm as a reflection of a society that had already begun to manifest itself – albeit through a democratic process rather than feudal rivalries.

By all appearances, we have instead rolled backwards into an age not unlike Eolyn’s medieval fantasy realm: where men who demean women are uplifted, and women who aspire to equality and fair treatment are despised and ridiculed. What seemed, not so long ago, an almost passé theme – the idea that women can not only aspire to but achieve respect and equality, even in the highest echelons of power – has suddenly become new and urgent, even insurgent, again.

One of my beta readers once told me that she saw The Silver Web as a metaphor for our own past, present and future. In her mind, the first book, Eolyntells the story of where we have come from as women; the second book, Sword of Shadows, reflects the dark, violent, and misogynistic world in which we live; and the third book, Daughter of Aithne, offers a vision of balance and reconciliation that one hopes will be achieved in the future.

I confess I’d never really seen my own work that way. Well, perhaps I had; it’s just that I believed we were on the verge of leaving Sword of Shadows behind, and Daughter of Aithne was less than a dream away. Now, I honestly don’t know.

I guess some dreams just take longer than others.