Maybe a Little Relaxation

Photo of a lit candle against a dark background.

Look, we’re living in stressful times. It doesn’t matter who you are. With issues like the economy, inflation, mass layoffs, mass shootings, political tensions, threats of war, and natural disasters linked to climate change (just to name a few), there’s a scary headline suited to your specific anxieties.

So, maybe a little relaxation?

I often have a hard time quieting my brain at night. When my daily work and fun is done and I’m supposed to be winding down, I’m just…not. Instead, I’m turning all of those worries and anxieties over and over in my brain. “Nothing to lose sleep over.” Oh, my friend! I can lose sleep over what I’m having for breakfast. And if it’s too late, I generally don’t take sleep medications because I don’t want to feel groggy from them in the morning.

I was discussing this with a friend who told me that she usually falls asleep to ASMR videos on YouTube, and I admit that I had to covertly Google “ASMR”. Wikipedia to the rescue:

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a tingling sensation that usually begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. A pleasant form of paresthesia, it has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia and may overlap with frisson.”

Oh! Yeah! I know what that is! What I didn’t know until I went to YouTube and searched “ASMR videos” was that there are tons of content creators who specialize in making videos to tingle you into relaxation and help you fall asleep fast. I’ve got a few favorites that trigger tingles and relaxation, but I’ve found that when it comes to sleeping, videos mimicking the spa environment work best for me. My current go to is: The Healing Room ASMR. My eyelids usually get pretty heavy about 15 minutes into one of these videos.

In exploring ASMR for sleep, I stumbled into the world of sleep stories and guided meditations. I’ve also tried sleep hypnosis to try and maintain a sense of calm in the waking hours. I’m not always as successful with sleep stories and guided meditations because my mind is sometimes like a really loud beehive and it’s difficult to focus on the story/meditation. (When that’s the case, I relax with a quick ASMR first, and then move to stories/meditation.)  For sleep stories, I’m trying out MindRest. For guided meditations and sleep hypnosis, I like Michael Sealy.

Now that I’ve explored this stuff on YouTube and found that it actually helps and isn’t just techno snake oil, it may be time to try out the sleep apps.

If you have a favorite sleep app, feel free to drop it in the comments.

Guest Post: Review of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Thanks so much to the awesome folks over at 9th Circle of Horror for having me as a guest blogger!

Check this out…

9th Circle of Horror

Director: Scott Glosserman

Writers: Scott Glosserman, David J. Stieve

Starring: Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englundbehind the mask poster

I’ll freely admit it. I’m a sucker for horror movies that poke fun at their own genre. I’ve always felt that movies that do this are sharing a little wink with the audience. From Jamie Kennedy’s character, Randy teaching us all how to survive a horror movie in Scream, to finally understanding how victims consistently fall into the same horror movie tropes in Cabin in the Woods, I enjoy being winked at.

Perhaps my favorite winking horror movie is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. (Spoilers ahead.)

The mockumentary opens to a world where Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger are real serial killers stalking real killing grounds.  Budding documentarian Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) comes to the town of Glen Echo, Maryland to interview and film the town’s very own aspiring…

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Read It: Haunted

Haunted coverI could not be more excited to announce that Haunted, a novel by my dear friend and intensely talented writer Reggie Lutz, is available for your reading pleasure!

And yes, I do mean pleasure. I was lucky enough to beta read this book. More than once I found myself so engrossed in the story that I forgot to do my beta reader job and had to go back. Yeah. It’s that good.

So what’s it about?

Gwendolyn McTutcheon can’t move on even though she’s been dead for a year. Having left behind a grieving husband, Evan; and three sisters, Trudy, Bethany, and Sarah; she knows there is work yet to do. 

Sarah, Gwen’s youngest sister, is back in town to help her two remaining sisters confront a depressed Evan about settling Gwen’s will. Still grieving—and raw from wrongful accusations made by Trudy and Bethany that he’d murdered his wife—Evan must set to the task of putting the past, and Gwen, to rest. But not all of the past stays in the past when Sarah offers her help and a romance between her and Evan begins. After all, it was that inappropriate kiss years ago that sparked the notion he might have harmed his wife in the first place. 

As Gwen watches, unable to intervene, Trudy and Bethany keep secrets of their own, secrets that level the field and make Sarah consider coming home to stay again. But when an arsonist sets his sights on Evan’s bar, Duard’s, and Sarah’s life is threatened, Gwen knows she must find a way to intervene, for her family and for her own peace. 

So, you know….

Buy Haunted for Kindle

Buy Haunted for Nook

Buy Haunted on Smashwords

Got it? Yes? Great!

I’m also thrilled to announce that Reggie and I have teamed up on a project that’s coming along swimmingly. We’ve had moments of wowing each other and surprising ourselves and just generally having a great time telling a story. It’s been fun living in our post-apocalyptic dystopian world and we can’t wait to invite you to hang out with us there.

Soon, my pretties. Soon.

On that note, I have some work on that project to go do now.

But seriously, buy Haunted. You won’t regret it!

Book Review: The Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten

The Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Ritch Duncan and Bob Powers, with illustrations by Emily Flake, is easily the most fun book I’ve read in quite some time.  Written in the same spirit as The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (by Max Brooks), The Werewolf’s Guide to Life is a tongue in cheek manual to help new lycanthropes (werewolves) survive their first few moons (transformations).

Not lacking in dark humor, the book addresses topics such as how lycanthropes should lock themselves away during their moons, what they should do if they get loose and turn or kill someone (because, let’s face it, it’s going to happen), and why lycanthrope suicide is not an option.

If you’ve ever sat and wondered, “Well what if…” when it comes to the life of a werewolf, this book will answer every question you’ve ever had and a few you probably didn’t in a way that will make you howl with laughter.

Yes, I know that last line was cheesy.  Feel free to have some wine with it.

While thoughtfully and thoroughly written, The Werewolf’s Guide to Life is a quick and easy read, perfect for your daily lunch breaks or a road trip (as the passenger, of course!).  I even enjoyed a few chapters before bed!

If you’ve read or are reading this book, feel free to add to this review in the comments.

Happy reading!