Hostile Resting Face Syndrome is a thing... or is it?

It started with my youngest daughter. 

The beginning of the answer to the mystery of why so many people ask me “are you mad?” And I’m not.

We sat across from each other during lunch the other day. “Mom, are you okay?” 

Her question stopped the trajectory of my spoon towards my gaping mouth. “Yes.” Well, I was thinking about things other than what we’d been discussing. But, that was besides the point. “I’m fine… why?”

“You looked mad at the nail salon that’s all.” First, who could get mad while they are getting a treat? Second, I was thinking about missing said daughter when she leaves for college this fall. 

The topic came up again while I was scrolling through the internet looking for a pair of sunglasses.  An article captured my attention.

I’d looked for the best styles for a diamond shaped face. The writer made the point that sometimes an unsmiling diamond shaped face can be read as “catty.”  I have a diamond shaped face.

After reading the post, memories of people calling me snobby, catty and arrogant ran through my mind.

The struggle is real folks. I can sit by my lonesome with no thoughts of being superior to anyone, or just enjoying my soup and I am looking somehow arrogant. Or, snobby, or intimidating.

This is a complete mind blow to me. Because for the most part, I am a people person. In fact, I’ve gone so far as embarrassing my poor family by talking with “gasp” strangers. All. the. time.

So the next time you think someone is intimidating or arrogant, remember, they might be suffering from Hostile Resting Face Syndrome. I can't say it without smiling. Who knew they'd name a syndrome after my face? 

How about you? Have you ever been accused of something that is the polar opposite to who you are?  If so, what do you do to change the misperception?

The Suspense Is Killing Me...

Is it really Midsummer already?

You may be wondering what I've been doing this last year in between edits on my novel and returning to health after gall bladder surgery.

Helping our youngest choose the right college has been a time consuming yet gratifying endeavor as I’ve enjoyed each moment of watching her blossom into young womanhood.

We were all delighted when she was voted prom queen for her senior prom. We capped off the prom and graduation season with a large celebration in our home with family and her close friends.

Meanwhile, as my time of editing over the winter wound to a close, my agent sent book proposals to several publishers.

This, my friend, is the part where I’m learning how to “wait.” 

After 30 years of motherhood, I’m waiting to birth my first “book” baby. It’s been a process much like the proverbial butterfly turning to mush in it’s own cocoon. Oh, monarch butterfly how I’ve learned to appreciate your beauty all the more!

While we wait to hear about a book contract, my husband and I flew to Hawaii for our 35th wedding anniversary. After years of family vacations, the trip to the big island was paradise for us. Ten days on the beautiful island sped by and we headed back to Pennsylvania back to our busy lives.

One project we are involved in as our youngest leaves the nest is to renovate the master bathroom. My husband is treating me to yet another dream come true with a cast iron claw foot tub. 

As I sit here typing this post, the renovations on the bathroom are almost done.  

Hmmm... I think a good book and a bubble bath may be in order. 

What do you do while you wait?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, our youngest daughter received a partial scholarship to a liberal arts college 6 hours away. I can practically hear adventure calling her.

3 Ways To Bring Back Balance In Your Life

Take a moment and think about the last time you had a good belly laugh. Or, when was the last time you picked your feet up for ten minutes and did nothing?

Life has never been busier. Distractions from our work weigh on us and keep us from sleeping properly. We lay awake at night worrying about the finances, our families, our declining health.

Did you know your body at rest can repair itself after the barrage of stress and adrenalin dumped into it over the course of a day? Oftentimes the pain, inflammation and diseases we deal with are due to the lack of balance in our lives. 

Talk about fight or flight response. When my dental hygienist suggested I run to deal with my Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain I knew it was time to find alternative remedies for dealing with stress. 

In the past year, I have had my gall bladder removed, broken my middle finger, and dealt with major life changes we all deal with at one time or another. 

The pace of our daily routine has grown exponentially with the insertion of new technology. How much news do we really need to see? Is it even true what we are seeing on the news channels, the internet, publications?  

We need more balance in our lives. I know I do.

One of the ways to bring more balance into your life is by prioritizing your daily responsibilities. 

What is the first thing you do in the morning? It’s easy to hop out of bed and hit the floor running. Try this instead~

Wake up 15~ 20 mins. earlier and grab some fruit. Sit down in your quiet place and think about what is essential to do for that day. Meditate on the good things, hand over your worries to God. 

Even better, take your dog or just yourself and take a walk or run outdoors. This one habit has helped me so much I have no more need to have treatment for my TMJ. In fact, I sleep at night and feel rested when I wake up in the morning

My husband and I took a long awaited to trip to Hawaii for our 35th anniversary this summer. 

It was ten days of relaxation, exploring, long conversations, walks on the beach, and enjoying each other. 

I can’t tell you how many times I thought about that trip to get me through the challenges, work and responsibilities weighing me down throughout the months preceding the trip. 

The second way to bring more balance into our lives~ take some time away with your loved ones. Even if it’s a walk in the local park, a great movie, or just coffee at the local cafe. 

My nephew, a personal trainer, asked me to dinner recently. When I told him I was running he said, “that takes a lot of balance.”

That got me thinking about the balance thing. Do you have people in your life who can help balance the responsibilities in your life? Do you think about asking for help or do you try to do it all yourself?  

Our contractor talked about a cast iron clawfoot tub my husband is treating me to. It weighs a ton (maybe quite literally) and he had to bring in extra men to help him carry it up to our renovated bathroom. 

I asked him how it went. And, he said, “I brought straps to hook it onto my shoulders and balance the weight.” Success!

We all have heavy burdens. We do need each other. We need self care in the midst of all our activities. 

We most definitely need wisdom to help us carry the load. And, we need a God who will shoulder that burden for us.



So you want to write Suspense?

Every good story starts with a level of suspense and needs some tension or conflict to keep the reader interested enough to turn the pages of your book. 
Here are some ways to create the tension you need and keep your readers hooked. 
The hook of a story is usually the first sentence or in the first paragraph of your novel. By dropping your character into the middle of the action you can have your reader immediately wanting more. This is called the inciting incident. 

A good example of a hook comes from J.K. Rowlings epic fantasy Harry Potter. 

"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
The hook jumps right into the action, grounding the reader into the story while giving pertinent information of “who, what, where and why” of the novel. It also bears the weight of a universal question. "What makes the Dursleys normal? and, one might suspect, "why would the Dursleys need to make that statement?"

So, there must be a universal element to the hook as well. Raising the readers curiosity, he wants to continue reading in a state of suspended belief. 

The trick is to keep your readers in the story world without pulling them out. Writing the craft of suspense is harder in some ways because the reader must be carried along without any sense of the writers intent to do so.

Some call placing a time limit on the resolution of your conflict the "ticking bomb." This technique raises the suspense level as we wait to see if the characters will survive whether it is an emotional conflict or physical one. 

Keeping the stakes high for our hero or heroine will motivate your reader to want to know m ore. If the main character is involved in tracking a serial killer we'll want to know whether that killer is captured before he can kill again. 

Create Character Dilemmas ~ I call it “when life falls apart in your picture perfect world." Whatever can go wrong for your main character can go wrong. And in a suspense novel, it usually does. It helps to throw a curveball every now and then to keep your reader on his or her toes. The  unexpected plot twist mirrors life in a very real way. Doesn't it?

Another technique is the use of foreshadowing and a red herring. Foreshadowing is giving a hint of the trouble ahead for your characters. While a red herring is intended to divert the reader from difficulties ahead.                                               

"Suspense is creating a mess in your character's picture perfect world and leaving the reader waiting as he tries to get out."