Macro Monday Is Not A Macro But Surly Owl Doesn’t Care

This owl knows that it is Monday, and is accordingly surly about it.


Also, dubious.

Super dubious.

(I have more macros coming soon — got a camera full of ’em, but need to process the photos.)


So, hey, hi, how are you?

Here’s what’s going on in this neck of the woods:

– Our tiny human is now in kindergarten. He does not approve of this turn of events and would much rather spend his time staying at home and playing LEGO thank you very much.

– I’ve been battling sudden bouts of insomnia, as if I somehow fucking forgot how to sleep? And goddamnit, I love to sleep. Sleeping is the best. It’s weird when autonomic processes become hard — it starts to feel like something is broken, because, hey, sleep is obvious and easy. I’VE BEEN TRAINING MY WHOLE LIFE TO SLEEP. And suddenly my brain is like, “Hey, it’s night-time, is this a good time to talk?” And then my heart races and the room feels hot and woo, boy. It’s anxiety, probably and maybe a little bit of reflux, too, and I don’t know if it has a source or it’s just a shift in things and the schedule with B-Dub now in kindergarten. I’m sure it won’t last and I’ve had some luck the last couple of nights changing up my routine a bit, so we shall see. (If any of y’all out there deal with insomnia, shout out in the comments. Got tricks to deal?)

Next Thursday, I’m at Let’s Play Books! I’ll bring cupcakes! And, cough cough, some edible bugs. NO, the bugs won’t be on the cupcakes. (Or will they?) Let’s Play Books is a marvelous kids’ (or mostly-kids’) bookstore in Emmaus, PA. They’re changing locations so I’m doing an INVASIVE-slash-STAR WARS event in support of their grand reopening and you should totally come. 9/22, 6PM. Be there or be covered with ants.

– The following Tuesday, 9/27, I’ll be at the Rittenhouse Square Barnes & Noble in Philly with YOUR PAL AND MINE, Fran Wilde! She’s there launching her newest, Cloudbound. I’ll be there to sign books and give Fran dubious surly owl looks for her Knock Knock jokes. 9/27, 7pm, details here.


Hey, a very kind review of Invasive has popped up at BiblioSanctum:

“I loved Hannah as a protagonist. She’s complex, well-written, and sympathetic. Raised by parents who were diehard survivalists, Hannah grew up seeing the end of the world behind every corner. From a young age, she was taught the skills to prepare for any possible doomsday scenario. In spite of her upbringing though, or perhaps because of it, Hannah chose not to focus on the end, but instead decided to pursue a career related to studying the future. Her current relationship with her parents is complicated, strained. She maintains that human advancement will either lead us to great things, or destroy us all. As a character, Hannah is shaped by this duality, and it’s also a recurring theme that pops up throughout the novel.

The story is also tight, fast-paced, suspenseful. It’s very reminiscent of Michael Crichton, but Invasive also carries all the elements that make it a Chuck Wendig novel, with its dark humor, snappy dialogue, and hard action. I had a great time with this book, so much so that this might have just become my favorite work of his after his Miriam Black series. And if you know how much I love those books, you know I would not say something like that lightly.”

– My NYCC schedule will be formalized soon, I hear.

– I have a handful of other COOL THINGS to share, but can’t share them yet or assassins will take my head as punishment. So, keep your grapes peeled.

– Buy INVASIVE or your flesh will be colonized by ants. You can grab it here:

Indiebound | Amazon | B&N


  • Hi Chuck, I remember when the little guy was born! I’m a sleep tech, for the sleep- the two things that induce sleep are temperature and light. The cooker the room, the darker the room, the better you sleep. We keep the lab at 68/69 degrees. ANY light decreases your melatonin production. The bedroom should be only for sleep or sex. Your mind should assume one or the other when you walk in the door. If your mind races, keep pencil and paper at bedside and write it down. Takes it off your brain and onto paper. No electronics, the blue light resets your circadian rhythms. And try magnesium. Start at 200 mg and work up. It’s a muscle relaxation. Sweet dreams!

  • I’m so sorry about your sleep issues, but…welcome to the (sleep-deprived) club? Assuming you’re not dealing with menopause, it’s a thing that happens with age. (But getting older is still better than the alternative!) I’ve used melatonin with some success. It’s harmless as long as you take it as directed.

    Also, chamomile tea with a small shot of whiskey is pretty good about a half-hour before bed time.

  • Happens to me from time to time. Not usually when I first go to bed, but after I get up in the night. I usually take some ibuprofen (for the part of the insomnia that’s physical–another fun part of aging), maybe wander the house a bit, think about reading but don’t because a) I don’t want to wake the spouse and b) I’m too tired. Then I lie there and either fret about all the stuff I’m fretting about, or focus my mind on a story (one I make up on the spot or one I’ve read). After about an hour or two, I fall asleep, which I probably would have done if I did none of these things.

    Oh, that wasn’t helpful? Sorry! Guess my answer is…no answer 🙁

  • My problem with insomnia always comes from the same thing you’re saying where my brain decides to discuss with me all the things that might be going wrong at the moment.

    I’ve found the most reliable thing to deal with it has been audiobooks. It’s just like when your parents would read to you when you were a kid. I get the impression that if you focus your mind on the reading, it shuts off that other part of the brain that’s dealing with shit or at least turns off the communications with it.

    I always keep at least one book in my phone just for this.

  • I feel you on that insomnia front. I have noticed that the older I get, the more careful I have to be about caffeine. My cutoff is much earlier than it used to be. Super sad.

    Also, I am trying to cut off my screen time a bit earlier, too, but the truth is I kinda fail at that. :p

    Good luck, Chuck. It is ridiculous when our bodies betray us like this!

  • Hey, Chuck,
    I’ve fought insomnia all my life – – it can be a bear – – and, aside from drugs, prescription and OTC, the thing that helps the most for me is reading. I’m giving my brain someone else to talk to, I guess, but if I don’t read in bed before sleeping, I might as well just get up and dance a jig. It doesn’t always work, but not doing it is a guarantee I won’t sleep (even with pills). Not reading is like turning my brain into an FM receiver for every damn thought I wish I’d never had. Dunno if that’ll help, but by trying, at least you get to read more books… 🙂

    Good luck and loooove the owl. Nicole

  • I’ve had a bit of anxiety-related insomnia. Nothing too bad, so I may not be a great example for your situation. One thing that helped me however, was a little app called “My Sleep Button.” It reads out random words/phrases for you to imagine. For me, it stopped my brain from going ’round and ’round in the anxiety loops by giving me something else to focus on that wasn’t connected to the anxiety. It’s free and can’t hurt, so maybe it’ll help. Best of luck getting things back to normal.

  • Insomnia hack: write down whatever is going through your brain. It seems to help stop the incessantly repetitious thought circles. Like my brain is afraid I’ll forget or something.

  • I haven’t had insomnia as much as I’m just a crappy, light sleeper. So sleep is a major thing for me that I refuse to give up even to write down great story ideas. I figure if they’re so great, they’ll be there when I wake up too. If not…couldn’t have been that great an idea. 😉

    So while I’ve heard the keep pen and paper handy and write out whatever the brain is feeding you, I find that it wakes me up even more if I turn on a light and start writing.

    Also…perhaps find a book that bores you to tears and keep that close by. My old college philosophy book was awesome for that. Five minutes and I was gone. It redirects your brain from whatever it wants to think about and puts you to sleep.

    As far as the room, the sleep tech is right, keep it dark and cool. I run a fan, the continuous noise helps not to mention keeps the air moving so I don’t get warm so quick. Also, I use a product called Midnight PM. They help you go to sleep, but won’t keep you asleep and it’s nonaddictive.

    Hope you get more Zs.

  • I learned about the whole phenomenon of ‘second sleep’ a few years ago and it helped me relax about the whole waking up at 3:27am for 4 nights in a row deal. Someone researched old journals and found people all over and regularly woke up and had a spell of productive time in the middle of the night, then went back to sleep. They would read, journal, do housework, make love, knit, clean their muskets, etc and it was all normal. It helped me let go of my feelings of failure that I hadn’t had the optimal night sleep and I was never going to get there! It’s kind of an empty fantasy like much of the whole iconic American dream. I also very rarely meditate if I wake up in the 3’s or 4’s and it’s the quietest the world gets. Good luck.

  • And then my heart races and the room feels hot and woo, boy. It’s anxiety, probably and maybe a little bit of reflux, too, and I don’t know if it has a source or it’s just a shift in things and the schedule with B-Dub now in kindergarten. I’m sure it won’t last and I’ve had some luck the last couple of nights changing up my routine a bit, so we shall see. (If any of y’all out there deal with insomnia, shout out in the comments. Got tricks to deal?)

    It probably is anxiety about your son going to school now, Chuck. Seems (not that I’m a parent or anything. *cough*) to happen to parents that are “stay-at-home” types during those early years because they get comfortable with the kid being around.

    That said, have you tried Melatonin and/or Melatonin-whatever-Tea? The “sleepy time” comfortable ones? I know that’s a generic answer and probably (didn’t for me, anyway) will work, but can’t hurt to try?

    No electronics, the blue light resets your circadian rhythms.

    Agree with this. Blue-lights will apparently knock your sleep cycle off rythmn. There is an app for iPhones and Android (forgetting the name of it right now) and I think Mac/Windows/*NIX that darkens/lightens the screen based on time-of-day so your not having blaring white light (which can hurt your sleep as well) shining in your face if you’re using a screen in the dark and/or evening hours. Look it up.

    • September 12, 2016 at 1:11 PM // Reply

      The app I use for this is called Twilight on my phone and F.lux on my PC. It doesn’t just brighten or darken, it also cuts out blue light in favor of red. Very handy (although I have to remember to turn it off if I’m doing color-based work after sundown).

  • There’s a lot that you can do for insomnia. From what I understand it’s just a symptom of your mind processing information, (usually happens at times of abnormal stress). As you said -it’ll pass. Like most things in life – the longer you fight it, the longer it lasts. Ease up on caffeine and alcohol intake, avoid napping, allow your brain to do what it does, and you should be right as rain in a day or two. Hope this helps.

  • September 12, 2016 at 1:16 PM // Reply

    I basically tell myself a story.

    I have a couple of Those Stories, the ones whose internal logic doesn’t make any sense or that are extremely problematic, that I’m never going to bother to try to unravel or write properly. But they’ve got some pretty spiffing scenes, so I’ll try to start in on one of those to shut down my brain. At this point, those particular characters are so associated in my mind with bedtime that frequently all it takes is them walking onstage for me to conk out. It’s the same sort of process I use normally for working out a scene, but because I know nothing is ever going to come of them, I don’t have to try to remember what I came up with, and so I can just drift.

    I need audio when I’m sleeping, so I usually put on a movie, something very familiar that I’m not going to get sucked into. If it’s a really bad night, I’ll roll over and actually watch the thing, which at least lets me get out of the helplessness of trying and failing to sleep. Eventually I’ll drift off, usually right after the point where I’ve stopped putting pressure on myself to try to get to sleep and have just accepted that laying here in the dark is fine.

  • Hi Chuck, I agree with everything sleep tech says. Another ‘little trick” that works for me is to read a magazine, like The New Yorker (with short “talk of the town” entries), BUT on my side. Makes your eyes tired to read that way and you get drowsy fairly quickly. Need to work out any light issues with a co-located spouse, but I find it works pretty well. Good luck!

  • Sorry to hear about your sleep problems. I stopped mine by using the following lifestyle tricks:
    Don’t drink tea or coffee (or other caffeinated drinks) within 4 hours (pref more) of bed time.
    No TV, computers etc for at least 1 hour before lights out.
    Black out blinds/curtains.
    Cool room and open window.
    A daily walk – essential for all desk bound people.
    No discussion of major problems in the evening (we’re building a house, budget discussions in the evening guarantee a bad night).

    And if I do wake up, I plan what I’d do with a windfall £1,000,000 – it’s enough to give interesting but imaginary problems to solve, so keeps my mind away from more real anxieties and gets me back to sleep quickly.

    Hope these and the other tips people have suggested work for you, lack of sleep takes the joy from life.

  • Hey Chuck, battles with insomnia for years, I read Restful Sleep by Deepak Chopra had some great tips. I think I need to read it again as its started creeping back. The most effective for me was listening to podcast mindfulness meditation and before the age of podcasts I learned to trick my brain – to lay still in my bed and close my eyes and tell myself this pretend state of sleep was about 80% as beneficial as sleep. So, with this in mind I told myself I didn’t care and it didn’t matter if I feel asleep, I would still be rested enough. And what do you know? Slumber arrived. Good luck with it insomnia is a bitch.

  • Hi Chuck, can’t help with the insomnia but ginger tea is great for reflux. I suffered for years with reflux but now a couple of slices of ginger root in hot water after dinner and it is gone.

  • If my monkey brain is keeping me up, I get out of bed and do some stretches. If I am physically twitchy as well, I use the foam roller. This helps settle me down and also cools me off. If I don’t allow at least an hour between turning off the screen and trying to sleep, I’m screwed. Generally I read on paper, for at least a half hour before sleep. Either nonfiction, or fiction I have read before (because then I don’t fell compelled to stay up to find out what happens next). If I am particularly monkeyfied, a book of great photographs, with little to no text, can help.

    Nice owl. 🙂

  • After a series of neurofeedback sessions, my sleep greatly improved. I still have occasional nights where I wake in the middle of the night, but the brain training really improved my sleep. It has a similar effect as deep meditation, which I hear also helps a lot. There’s also a nifty thing called an Alpha-Stim AID which was the first thing I tried. That’s a portable unit that some doctors and therapists rent out. You attach clips to your ears and use it for about 20 minutes a day. After finding that helpful, I moved on to the feedback, because its effects are longer lasting.

  • Oh, honey. You’re not nearly old enough for menopausal symptoms yet. But the hot flashes and insomnia, reflux and anxiety? Oh yeah. It’s a classic.

    Sleep can’t be forced.You want a happy meditative state. And you want your circadian rhythms to kick in. Thus, no screen time for 2 hour before bedtime (that’s hard… very hard. What about my FB? Suppose somebody commented? How about my KDP stats? – RESIST. That way lies madness.) So dim those lights, shut down the screens, and read or take a bath or do the dishes or something.
    It really helps me to stretch out before bedtime. When my anxiety stuff kicks in, I meditate. I promise myself I’ll do it every day because it makes me feel so much better, but once I reestablish my sleep pattern, I let it slide and few months later I’m stressed out and sleepless again. The meditation is just the most ordinary kind, where you count your exhales from one to ten over and over. The book “Zen Mind, Beginner Mind” has an entertaining and brief how-to by Shunryu Suzuki. Problem is, when you lose track because of distracting thoughts, you have to go to one again. Most people take three consecutive sessions to make it all the way to ten. It’s the process, not the result.
    Enjoy it.
    Don’t be distracted by plot bunnies.
    Don’t talk to your imaginary friends, either.

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