The Novel That Romance Fans Will Not Want To Miss


Before OLD FASHIONED arrives in theaters on Valentine’s Day, Tyndale House is releasing the novelization of Rik Swartwelder’s screenplay by author Rene Gutteridge. And it is receiving high praise from reviewers.

USA Today’s reviewer writes:

“I couldn’t help myself but to keep following the story to its hopeful, sweet, happy ever after. … This is a novel romance fans will not want to miss! This book will rank highly among my Favorite Romances of 2014!”

In its four-star review of the book, says:

“Amber is cute and likable, but it’s Clay’s admirable yet weird stance on dating that will keep the reader interested. Other quirky characters and Twitter-worthy quotes help to make this an enjoyable read. Looking forward to the February release of the movie!”

The Old Fashioned novel is now available as an eBook and will be available in print in January. And, of course, OLD FASHIONED opens in theaters February 13!

“I have a theory…”

In Old Fashioned, Clay Walsh is a man with many noble theories on love and romance… but it’s been years since he’s even had a date so it’s no wonder even his closest friends give him a hard time:

Why don’t you just crawl back under that antique shop and make-up some more theories you never test-out at the grown up table anymore.

When the captivating, wild child that is Amber Hewson shows up out of nowhere and rents the apartment above that antique shop, Clay is confronted with someone new who not only wants to actually know more about his theories but also truly inspires him to dust them off and indeed “test-out” those theories in the real world.

So what are these theories of Clay’s and where did I—as the writer—ever come up with some of them?

Well, the theories of Clay are legion and could probably fill 30 blogs, easy.  I’ve written about some of them before.  His theory about never being alone with any woman that’s not his wife here; and a little background on some interviews I did that helped shape another of his theories about how our culture trains us to be good dates (but not necessarily good mates) here.

For this post, I’ll pick another one:

Nothing magical happens when you walk down the aisle… like it or not, what we do when we single is what we’ll do when we’re married.

Now, I can’t really point to a specific moment in my own life or a book I’ve read or a sermon I’ve heard that put that idea in my head, but as I sat down to write Old Fashioned and was reflecting on my own romantic choices and some of the marriages I’d already seen unravel… I started thinking… connecting the dots.

And ultimately, I realized that a lot of it just comes down to basic common sense.

No analogy is perfect—especially one tied to sports—but I beseech thee, kind readers, allow me this one indulgence…

It’s a common anecdote in coaching to teach your athletes that you can only play in the game as hard as you practice.  If you don’t push and stretch yourself during your prep, most of the time you’re not magically going to play amazingly on game day.  That’s not how it works.  And, as someone who used to be a competitive long-distance runner, I know this to be true first hand.

But when it comes love and marriage, it seems like we have a disconnect.  Like this reality simply doesn’t apply.

If you live your life as a careless single person, flirting and sleeping around and/or playing fast and loose with the hearts of others… and never even attempt to discipline yourself to live with intention or consider the fact that how you’re “practicing” while single may indeed affect how you “play” once married, well, in my mind, that’s simply foolish.

And you could apply this to finances or volunteerism or health and personal development as well.  Even your relationship with God.  Most singles would benefit to reflect on this for at least a moment… considering themselves and also in regard to discerning what it is that most attracts them to the person they’re currently dating (or hoping to) and comparing that with what qualities the genuinely want in a spouse.

Of course we all continue to grow and change throughout life.  And yes, some people do take a huge step toward maturity after marriage and develop new patterns.

But sometimes they don’t.  And I’ve seen the wreckage.

So… when shaping the character of Clay—and his commitment (admittedly to a fault) to live his life with intention and thoughtfulness—I thought that this was a theory worth including.

Bottom line, the idea is that it’s not about being consumed with thoughts of what marriage is going to provide for you… but doing all you can, well in advance, to train and practice and strive to bring the very best of yourself into marriage.   For the sake of the other.

If a sporting event is worth that kind of effort, certainly a marriage is.

That’s Clay’s theory, anyway.

And personally, I think he might be onto something…

– Rik


Good News: Chivalry is NOT Dead!


When OLD FASHIONED opens in theaters on Valentine’s Day, we believe it will be a time when Chivalry Makes a Comeback. And, according to a 20-something female blogger, it can’t happen a moment too soon.

As Jen Ruiz blogged this week, “Despite popular opinion, chivalry is not dead. …” She also says:

“It’s a welcome relief, then, when we stumble upon those few true gentlemen. They exude chivalry with even their smallest actions, and remind us that there are still good ones out there.

“It doesn’t take a grand gesture or costly display of affection to win a girl over. Often, it just takes a little sincerity and display of genuine romantic interest.”

Take a look at her list of everyday ways guys can be chivalrous. And be sure to share your thoughts and ideas on our Facebook page!

The Old Fashioned Team


Why opposites still attract

There’s no getting around it, the story of Old Fashioned involves a couple of characters (Clay and Amber) that couldn’t be more different, especially when they first meet.

Amber is a free-spirit who possesses an amazing spark of life within her that is winsome, full of the promise of joy and adventure, and pretty much irresistible.  The screenplay for Old Fashioned describes her like this:

… mesmerizing.  She is a genuine woman-child.  Sensual.  Spiritual.  Somehow more alive than the rest of us.

And all these things are true and… yet.  Amber also has a knack for hitting the road when life gets too messy and has spent most of her adult life bouncing all over the country.  Out of some serious wounds and fears, she defiantly refuses to put down roots or believe in a “home” that can be safe and lasting.

Clay, on the other hand, is the polar opposite.

He’s nothing but roots.  In fact, he is so rigid and locked into his theories, his ideas, and the familiar safety and comfort of his antique shop that he is nearly absent of joy and adventure.

In a strange way, Clay is someone that has become so good at “righteousness” that he’s actually on the verge of drifting away from God, the very one that inspired him to reach for virtue and integrity to begin with.

And… yet.

Misguided and peculiar as many of his theories are, there’s something about a person that isn’t afraid to stand against the Godless trends of the day… even if, on the surface, they are somewhat emotionally distant and—let’s just say it—boring.

So there they are, Clay and Amber, two souls clearly on opposite ends of the spectrum that still manage to be drawn to each other against all logic and odds.  Why?

There’s no simple answer to that question or even to why the cliché “opposites attract” play out over and over again in movies and life both.

But, I think, in the case of our characters in Old Fashioned, it’s about need—and not on a physical level, but at a deep and genuinely spiritual one.  And they recognize that need and longing in each other, even if they have a hard time communicating and making sense of it all.

Both Clay and Amber have a measure of emptiness and need something found in the other to help pull them away from the extremes of their lives toward a balanced, middle path of living that is closer to what God created them for.

It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.  (Ecclesiastes 7:18)

To be clear, by balanced, middle path I don’t mean lukewarm or passionless.  And I certainly don’t mean to imply a Jerry Maguire “you complete me” kind of thing as a substitute for the reality that only in God do we find full love and acceptance.  No human relationship, even the very best one, can meet 100% of our needs or come close to measuring up to what God offers.

Even so, we need and can help each other as well.  That’s why God put us all in this… together.

And honestly, it applies far beyond romantic relationships.  In families, friendships, churches, teams, businesses… we need each other.

Just like law and grace need each other.

Just like Clay and Amber.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.  (1 Corinthians  12:12-14)

– Rik


Much to be thankful for…


And now, a word from our producer…

Thanksgiving is here.  It can—and should be—a wonderful holiday that provides a time to pause and reflect on the amazing blessings we enjoy and so often take for granted.

Whether you’re single or married, it can also quickly turn into a very stressful time filled with a cornucopia of pressures and anxiety… if you let it.

I’m reminded of a time not so long ago, when I was dating the woman of my dreams and was invited to Thanksgiving dinner with her family.

While the smile grew across my face at the prospect of drawing closer in our relationship, there was, of course, the sudden flash of terror that many experience during this season when they stop to calculate the formula for intense personal scrutiny:

Potential Spouse + Thanksgiving Dinner = Inspection + Interrogation

Was this a recipe for disaster?

To make things even more interesting, our respective families couldn’t be more different. I was from a relatively small, quiet family with relatives peppered across the Northeast.  Hers?  Well, I say this with great fondness, was a large, loud and ahem, passionate Italian neighborhood clan (rolling over fifty deep) that weren’t shy about expressing opinion. Think Everybody Loves Raymond meets The Brady Bunch.

Even if things went south, I thought, at least there was going to be Italian food—which just happens to be my favorite.  And there was going to be lots of it.  Perhaps I could make a covert exit with a 35 gallon size doggie bag.

I decided to mentally prepare.  A checklist might be good for focus.

What to wear?  What to say?

Employment?  Career goals?  How many kids do I want?

Memorize lyrics to the most popular Frank Sinatra songs.  Brilliant.

Political affiliation?  Religious views?  Hmm, potentially divisive.

What if it gets worse?  Giants or Jets?  Mets or Yankees?

How do I politely decline the 3rd serving of eggplant parmesan without insulting an eager Italian mother who seems bent on making sure that the only way for me to leave is for me to be turned on my rotund side and rolled out the garage door?

Doomsday scenario:  Rumor has it that potential mother-in-law and highly influential aunts have an annual pumpkin pie contest.  Compulsory event.  Must choose a winner.  Controversial outcome guaranteed.

What if no matter what I do, they just don’t like me?  It could happen.

Letting your thoughts run away with those pesky, pessimistic “What ifs” can easily take our focus off the amazing “What is.”

One of my favorite verses in the Good Book is Psalm 118:24.  It says “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

It’s a great reminder that whatever the circumstances, challenges or dark days we face, there is so much to be truly thankful for.  Now.  Thankful for what we have.  Thankful for who we are, warts and all.  Thankful for all the imperfect people—just like us—that God gives us the privilege of knowing and loving.

I’ve got so much to be thankful for, both large and small.  We live in a country, while far from utopia, where I’m free to express my opinion, practice my faith and make decisions I believe will be in the best interest of my family.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share Old Fashioned with audiences across the country who are already responding to the film’s hopeful depiction of what true love can be.

I’m truly grateful for a nation founded on free speech where we can agree to disagree.  A land where Fifty Shades of Grey and Old Fashioned—two movies offering drastically different perspectives on love, romance and respect—can play side by side at the same cinema, leaving audiences the opportunity to make a choice.

In any event, back to my story… so, just how did that Italian Thanksgiving turn out?

You’ll have to ask that beautiful woman of my dreams who’s been my wife for over twenty years.

Truly, the more we focus on our blessings and the many things we have to be thankful for, the less room we have for the fear and anxiety that often cripple us.  Instead of being bound by negativity, we discover the beauty and potential in the situations and people placed in our lives.

An “old fashioned” Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

– Nathan Nazario


Hollywood: May We Have Your Attention?


Looks like OLD FASHIONED is catching the eye of people who think that Valentine’s Day weekend belongs to Fifty Shades of Grey. In response to the newest trailer for the movie about sex and abuse, OLD FASHIONED director Rik Swartzwelder created a video that talks about the importance of a movie that looks at relationships from a Godly perspective.

You can watch the video (followed by the OLD FASHIONED trailer) here:

In an article about the video, industry standard The Hollywood Reporters quotes OLD FASHIONED producer Nathan Nazario:

“Fifty Shades is short-term titillation and Old Fashioned offers a long-term alternative,” says producer Nathan Nazario. “Audiences want to hear that the best of the past is still possible—that a relationship can be the safe room.”

The Old Fashioned Team


The Two Ingredients in Every Successful Relationship


TwoThingsScientists like to study things. Lots of things. Including relationships. In a great article in The Atlantic magazine, we learn that science has uncovered a lot of really interesting and important aspects about relationships.

But at the end of the day, you can boil healthy relationships down to two key ingredients. Get ready … here they are:

  • Kindness
  • Generosity

(of course, we’d suggest that every successful relationship needs a third ingredient, God, but kindness and generosity are a good start)

So, everything your mom taught you when you were a toddler still applies today to dating, marriage, and every other important relationship in your life. And remember, this is science talking!

The Old Fashioned Team



For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and will be joined to his wife. And they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

A recent ABC News piece highlighted a married couple that held a ceremony on a California beach to officially “uncouple.” What exactly is “uncoupling?” Brought into the cultural lexicon by actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin, “uncoupling” is a seemingly acceptable new way of ending a marriage relationship.

The new story reports:

“Clark and Valerie took the wedding rings they exchanged 14 years ago and gave them back to each other. ‘These rings do not symbolize who we are to each other anymore,’ Clark said. ‘So we’re releasing them,’ Valerie added.

“The Tates, who went with their own version of ‘uncoupling,’ believed this was a way to break up their marriage without animosity.”

After decades of rising divorce statistics, could “uncoupling” be the new standard? Or might there be a better option than either divorce or “uncoupling?”

Could it be there’s something to be said about old-fashioned commitment to one’s vows … and to one’s spouse?

The Old Fashioned Team

Three Rules for Ducking Out of Dating Danger


Sadie Robertson, the teenaged daughter of Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson, has been making a name for herself on television’s Dancing With The Stars. Not only is she gaining fans with her dancing, but at the same time, she’s inspiring us with her faith.

A fun-loving teenager who uses her faith to guide her relationships, Sadie has publicly committed to staying pure until marriage. She recently shared her dating guidelines to help teens duck out trouble with Fox 411:

1) Don’t be home alone together
2) Stay outside of each other’s bedrooms
3) Pray together before dates

What do you think? What other rules would you add for teens? Are there different rules for single adults? How do those differ? At OLD FASHIONED, we’d love to hear your thoughts (and rules).

The Old Fashioned Team

The Artist as Missionary

Do you have a story from your life that you share often?  One of those personal life experience kind of stories that eventually becomes so much a part of you it seems it’s no longer merely a story you tell others… it’s something far more mystical and magical; it’s a story that is actually telling you, shaping you, guiding you

This is one of my stories; one that has a hold on me like that.  I tell it a lot, but I’ve never written it down.  The events are true, I was there… and I haven’t been the same since.

After the screening of one of my films at a Christian college in the Midwest, a young student with tears in her eyes approached me.  She told me how she believed God was calling her to be an actress.  I’m sometimes skeptical at statements like this… but she was convincing. I listened.  She shared with great detail and passion her desire to honor God through the craft of acting and then her voice faltered, disappearing into a whisper.

“But,” she said.

“Stop,” I interrupted.  “Let me guess… your parents…”  She nodded.  “They told you not to go into acting because there’s no money it.”  Her eyes widened as she nodded again.  “They also told you that Hollywood is a dark and evil place and if you go there something bad might happen to you.”  She nodded one last time and lowered her head.

I wasn’t being prophetic; it’s just that I’d already heard all the arguments against the entertainment industry.  A hundred times.  But this moment was different.  With her hopeful eyes looking to me for some kind of answer and my own words still echoing all around me… it happened.  Epiphany.  Clarity.  God opened my eyes to the obvious.

The artist as missionary.

What if, hundreds of years ago, the church had told potential missionaries, “Don’t do it.  There’s no money in it.  Besides, you might have to go to far away places where bad things might happen to you.”  What a tragic loss that would have been.  Yes, many died penniless.  Yes, some even died tragic deaths in far away places.  And the world was changed because of them.  Is the cause of Christ no longer worth the risk?  What is His story telling… how is His story shaping… where is His story guiding?

We are all missionaries, in a sense.  And the truth remains, the only safe place to be is where Christ calls; it doesn’t matter if you’re a nurse, preacher, tentmaker, writer, or even… an actor.

– Rik

* An edited version of this blog post originally appeared in The Columbia Union Visitor in December 2007.