Life

05/17/12 Life , Thursday Night Write # ,

Meet My Amazing Assistant!

Most of you probably know that my daughter, Rebekah, is my personal and professional assistant. I always feel like she gets a raw deal. Like because she’s my daughter, people think, “Oh, riiiight. Your ‘personal assistant’.”

But it’s legit. And so is she (that’s her desk, at left).

I pay her for the job because it’s a lot of work, and then sometimes, it’s NO work at all, which also means no money. Now that she’s graduating, Rebekah is expanding her clientele by offering up her services to other writers who need virtual assistants, so I thought tonight would be a good time to post an interview with her and profess my gratitude for all she does.

It’s Thursday Night Write, after all, and having an assistant makes it easier for me to focus on writing, because really, all the other stuff is a full time job in and of itself. When I really need to buckle down and focus, I can do it only because I can send an email to Rebekah with a list of things I done. She answers email, fields awkward questions (believe it or not, the most frequent ones I get are about my religious affiliation… O_o), runs contests (something she does for-hire as well and has done for a couple other writers), calculates entries, packs prizes, files all my receipts and contracts, gathers tax records, tweets from the @prophecypress account, scours the internet for just the right gift and/or just the right swag, designs all my ads, bookmarks, bookplates, magnets, and postcards and then orders them, and keeps me up to date on market trends, YA books I should read, etc., etc., etc.

Basically, I’d be lost without her.

So even though she’s my daughter, I can say with absolute confidence that if you’re a writer and you need a little help, even temporary help, Rebekah is the one for the job. As the daughter of an author, she understands the privacy imperative, understands how important is to be gracious in correspondence (because it’s your reputation on the line), understands how to handle sticky situations with grace. She can multi-task tons of jobs at once but she can also step in when things get hairy (like during a launch month or contest) and lend a hand and then step out when you don’t need her.

If you’re looking for a little help, just drop her a line at rebekahzinkva@aol.com for a price list.

In the meantime, get to know her better here!

<3

What kinds of things do you do as a virtual assistant?

Lots of things! I design promotional material (bookplates, bookmarks, postcards, magnets, etc.), answer emails, forward interview questions, tally contests and pick a winner (via random number generator), organize the office, keep an inventory list, keep a mailing and email address list, and keep track of log-in info for different websites.

What are some of the things you enjoy most about the job?

I love working with my mom. She is prompt and gives good deadlines. I like organizing things as well, which is very important for this job, along with time management. But I think my most favorite thing of all is being able to work at home in my pajamas at any time of the day or night. 😉

What are some of the biggest challenges?

I think the biggest challenge is juggling everything, keeping it all straight and organized. We have over 500 addresses, and when we do postcard promotion, I have to count on the addresses being up-to-date so I can hand-address them. Near launch time, there’s always a lot of giveaways, which means emails and going back and forth with the wonderful fans, plus packaging and shipping giveaway items.

Favorite snack while working?

Everything? But if I have to limit it, probably some sort of non-chocolate candy, like jelly beans (Flav-Reds <3). And tea. Tea is essential.

As a virtual assistant, you’re subject to private correspondence and sensitive information. How do you handle that?

As the daughter of someone in the public eye, I understand firsthand the critical nature of the information I have. It’s a scary thing to give someone access to your log-ins, emails, financials, etc. The main reason my mom hired me is because she was worried about giving that information to an outside party. Seeing her worry about stuff like that has made it easy to empathize with people in the public eye and the delicate balance they have to maintain to do their job while sometimes seeking outside help for day-to-day tasks.

How do you deal with rude or aggressive people?

I really try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m always nice, but if someone continually harasses my mom or is repeatedly rude, I find a firm but professional way to put an end to it. 😉

Do you have a standard response to handle emails when Michelle is under deadline and can’t respond? If so, what is it?

I do! It varies depending on the request, but in general, it goes a little something like this:

Hello so-and-so,

Thank you so much for your support! Unfortunately, Ms. Zink is under deadline and will not be able to respond to your request. I’m sorry for any inconvenience, but let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. <3

All the best,
Rebekah Z.
Personal Assistant

What is one of the strangest requests/emails you’ve ever gotten?

We had a reader who desperately wanted to be pen pals with my mom, so I sent her a nice reply saying Michelle wasn’t able to oblige due to time and work. She sent me a reply informing me that she and I would be pen pals instead. She even told me to come up with questions to ask her and told me we would talk a lot that summer because she would be really bored.

Work-related pet peeve?

Not having an organized To Do list. I’m hyper-organized, but during times when there is a lot going on, I really need a straightforward list of what to do and when to have everything completed.

You’ll be going to college in the Fall. How do you expect that to impact your work as a virtual assistant?

I don’t. As a virtual assistant, I work mostly from my computer. Since I have juggled school (including college and AP classes) and work in the past, it will be no different with the onslaught of college work. I complete my work on time because that’s just the type of person I am!

What is the best and worst thing about working with your mom?

The best thing: I have the greatest relationship with my her. We get along great the majority of the time, and I love working with her.

The worst thing: Because of the familial tie, there are some situations where neither of us treat the other as employer/employee. Although we both try, there are times when I have to refrain from acting like her child and act like an employee. It’s hard to keep the balance between daughter and worker, mother and boss.

A secret about Michelle no one probably knows (come on, dish!);

Hmmm…. Her middle name is Lee. She doesn’t really like it, but I think it works for her.

<3

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05/13/12 Life #

A Love Letter to Children of Single Parents

As I type this, my two daughters (ages 12 and 18) are making an hour-long drive, determined to buy us all dinner from my favorite Thai food restaurant as a Mother’s Day gift.

It’s 6:00pm. So far today Andrew has made me breakfast (pancakes, complete with fresh peach sauce and homemade whipped cream, and fresh juice), Kenneth has gifted me with a dark chocolate and dried fruit bar (my favorite) and the promise of a copy of The Twelve (sequel to The Passage, one of my most-adored books from last year), and Rebekah has driven Caroline to the flower store where Caroline personally chose every flower for a gorgeous bouquet. Every one of these gifts has been paid for with money my children have earned or been given, and some of these presents (like breakfast) have included money spent for groceries and trip out to buy supplies.

Today, I’m truly overcome with gratitude and love for all four of my children. They don’t have another parent who helps them with these kinds of preparations for my birthday and Mother’s Day, and while I always tell them (and mean it!) that presents don’t matter to me and it’s not necessary for them to go to the trouble, they always go out of their way for me. Because they’re on their own, it means a lot of coordination on their part, a lot of work and effort, and sometimes, a lot of money (which I wish they wouldn’t spend on me, ahem).

It saddens me that there is such a burden on them during these occasions. There is part of me — the part that tries to look on the bright side — that thinks they are better people because of it. Less self-centered than many young people. More giving, empathetic, thoughtful.

But I still wish they didn’t have to shoulder so much.

They hold down the fort when I travel, help around the house and yard far beyond what most kids have to do, and sometimes just stand there next to me while I scream expletives (as when a pipe burst in our basement and water gushed in a torrent from the ceiling). They know more about our financial situation than most kids do (sometimes I’m thinking aloud, trying to work through stuff, and they are the only other ones in the house to hear it). They see me emerge red-eyed from the laundry room (my favorite spot to lose it, because hardly anybody goes in there) and avoid questioning me about it because they know I’d be embarrassed. My older kids chauffeur the younger ones around when I can’t. The younger ones will have to help me manage everything — just the three of us — when the two older ones are gone. They are all endlessly loving, supportive, caring. They are not only the reason for everything I do — they’re the reason I CAN.

It is widely acknowledged that being a single parent is a challenge. But what isn’t always acknowledged is that being the child of a single parent is a challenge, too. So on Mother’s Day, I want to say thank you to all of the kids and teens who help shoulder the burden of your single parents, to all of you who pick up groceries and drive siblings around and coordinate and purchase gifts and in general RISE ABOVE the situation, giving far more of yourself than many kids your age are ever asked — and some would argue — ever should be asked to give.

I love every one of you with my whole heart. YOU are unsung heroes in this equation, and the world is beyond fortunate to have you.

<3

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05/13/12 Life #

A Week in the Life; Bugs, Writing, and Good Friends

This week was full of writing (and writing-related angst), garden prep, track stuff, a movie, flowers from a beloved friend, and kitchen kickboxing.

Here’s my week in pictures…

Hope you guys had a great one!

<3

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05/09/12 Life #

What’s Happening

So I’ve decided to post about what’s going on in my life, writing and otherwise, on Wednesdays. I always assume details of my life are boring for others, but a lot of the feedback I got when I asked what you guys wanted to see on the blog was along the lines of “what you’re doing” and “what’s going on in your life.”

I used to do this a lot, but after awhile, I just felt narcissistic. I’ll try to get past it!

The last few weeks have been a nightmare in terms of scheduling. I’m an organizer. It’s the only way I can manage everything in my life plus single mother four teenagers and not feel like everything’s spiraling out of control. So last fall, when I had a hefty line up of projects, I penciled them neatly into my work schedule and knew I could do it.

For the sake of confidentiality (because I’m not allowed to talk about all of them), let’s call the projects Novellas 1, 2, and 3, Book/TV/Film Project, 2013 Book, and Option Projects (of which there are three).

I figured I’d take care of the novellas last fall, edit the 2013 book in January, work on the Book/TV/Film Project in February, and have spring and summer to prepare my option projects (for those of you who are wondering, publishing contracts typically include the books being purchased by the publisher plus a clause that says that publisher has the right to look at and the option to offer on your next book before you show it to any one else).

Ha! Hahahahahahaha!

This, of course, was all based on my persistent denial of the pace at which things move in publishing (described by one writing friend as “glacial”).

But then it took awhile to work out details for the novellas and it took awhile for the contractual stuff to get worked out on the Book/TV/Film Project and it took awhile to get my revision letter on the 2013 book.

All of which means I’ve written two novellas in three weeks and edited all three simultaneously, have exactly nine days to write my 100-page sample for the Book/TV/Film Project (which is, at least, thoroughly outlined), and have 3 weeks during all of this to finish revisions on my 2013 book. Then, I’ll have to hurry and prepare proposals on the three projects I’m considering as my option books.

Needless to say, it’s a little hairy around here. I’m trying not to panic, but some days it’s easier than others.To add to the fun, we’re doing college prep for Rebekah (who leaves in August) and my divorce is officially under way (which is well overdue since my soon-to-be ex-husband moved out four years ago), so I’m sure that will occupy some of my time and energy, too.

I still love what I do and thank the universe daily for the privilege of doing it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy, ya know? I’ve been fighting that insidious brand of despair where I just want to hide under the covers in the morning and hide from life.

Alas, that is SO not a possibility. So I’m slogging through it.

On the plus side, I’m super excited about every one of these projects, and even more excited to get to work on my option projects (all three of which are kick-ass). And I have a theory that the universe finds a way to teach the lessons we need to learn (whether we want to or not). If it’s true, I ended up in publishing to teach me to be patient and let go.

It’s a work in progress…

Hope you are all having a wonderful week!

<3

 

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05/05/12 Life #

A Week in the Life; Spicy Noodle Salad, Kitty Naps, and Strawberries

I have to admit it; I’ve been having fun taking pictures of my week for you guys.

I’m going to try it without captions this week.

Hope you enjoy it!

<3

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04/23/12 Life #

Welcome to My Blogging Identity Crisis

So… yeah. The good thing about a detailed blog post title is you can cut to the chase in the post, right?!

As you guys know, I’ve been doing regular features on this blog for some time. We’ve had Movie and Mystery Monday, Song of the Week, Thursday Night Write, and the Friday Poll. Having regular features has made it easier for me to post regularly, because I’m don’t always feel like I have to be uber witty and creative to generate a post when the truth is, sometimes I’m all creatived out from my real job; writing.

That said, some of the blog features get more views than others. And let me clear; I don’t care all that much about views except where it tells me what YOU like to read. For me, this blog is about connecting and sharing information with my readers, not selling books.

But I can’t connect with you if you’re not here, right? And I want you to keep coming back, because, well, I LIKE you!

I really enjoy Song of the Week (in which you nominate songs for me to feature) and the Friday Poll (which allows me to have fun asking you guys questions both silly and serious questions in a poll format), though I suspect I’d be more consistent with the Friday Poll if I scheduled it a head of time (I don’t know abut you, but by Friday, the last thing I want is to be on my computer). Thursday Night Write is hit and miss for me. It started as a way for YOU to share your writing, but after awhile the regulars were too busy to post and I opted to a move to an Anything About Writing format for Thursday. The problem is that sometimes I have something to say about writing, and sometimes all I can think of is, “HALP!” I’ve also experimented with a Things I Love post where I’ve posted everything from gorgeous dresses to books to yoga.

Now, for some reason, I find myself having a little blogging identity crisis. I think I need at least a couple regular features to keep me blogging regularly, because the truth is, being a single mom to four teenagers and writing 3-4 books a year just doesn’t leave me a lot to work with in terms of time, creativity and enthusiasm.

But I also want to make sure you keep coming here to chat, check-in, or even just read and move along. So help me out here! What do YOU like about the blogs you frequent? What are the qualities in a blog that keep you coming back, make you check in every few days, make it part of your regular internet circuit?

Inquiring minds want to know. And if you have any ideas or suggestions for this blog, I’m all ears!

<3

 

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02/14/12 Life , Music , Song of the Week # , ,

The Greatest Love Of All

Valentine’s Day makes me happy. Life is a struggle so much of the time. Any day — Hallmark holiday or not — that gives everyone a chance to focus on love is a good thing. But today, with so much focus on romantic love, I’m making it my personal mission to remind you all to love yourself first. Love yourself truly, deeply. Love yourself in all your complexity, frailty, mistakes, and all the beautiful flaws that make you human. Love yourself wholly and know — KNOW — that it is truly the only thing that can make you whole.

The luminous Whitney Houston sang it best. What a voice she had. I’m sending you all much love tonight with this week’s song, chosen by me for all of you who send me your love every day.
<3 I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows If I fail, if I succeed At least I'll live as I believe No matter what they take from me They can't take away my dignity Because the greatest love of all Is happening to me I found the greatest love of all Inside of me The greatest love of all Is easy to achieve Learning to love yourself It is the greatest love of all And if, by chance, that special place That you've been dreaming of Leads you to a lonely place Find your strength in love

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01/05/12 Life , Uncategorized , Writing # ,

What I Did and What I Want to Do

Happy 2012, you guys!

😀

I meant to write a goal-related post last week, but to be honest, I had such a tough November/December I just withdrew over the holidays and tried to regroup. I’m still getting my feet under me from the very tough year that was 2011.

All the more reason to look ahead and set some writing goals (and I’m not just talking about me here).

Last year I wrote 2 1/2 novels, edited two books front to back, wrote a 20,000-word novella, and continued to promote my little heart out by sending out tons of swag and spending the majority of my promotional time and money focusing on connecting directly to readers. I also plotted two more books and started work on some exciting TV/film stuff that I hope will open more doors for me in that arena this year and in the future.

In addition, (and I know this isn’t writing, but it certainly impacts my writing), I single-parented four teenagers, maintained our old converted barn by myself, and shopped colleges for Rebekah.

Because I’m so goal-oriented (and I always have aggressive goals), my schedule was packed tight and dependent on everything moving at a certain pace. About midway through the year, I hit a roadblock where I just could not get any of my writing projects to move forward. Publishing is notoriously slow (I’ve heard it described as “glacial”), and this proved to be my downfall in 2011. Things didn’t start moving again until December, which proved to be too late for me to meet some of my goals (like finishing that 1/2 a book, selling it, selling one of my others, and getting my novellas out into the world).

I’d like to claim that I learned to say “c’est la vie”, but when it comes to goals, I’m not that much of a defeatist (or maybe that’s just one thing I can’t be Zen about). I think the biggest thing I learned is something I suspected all along – it’s never a bad idea to diversify with projects in multiple genres, mediums, etc. That way, if one thing (or ten things) are stalled, you have something else (hopefully) moving forward.

The downside is that you have to work through all those roadblocks on multiple projects to even get to a point where you actually HAVE a diverse set of in-process projects. I’m hoping I did the hard part of that in 2011 and that all my hard work will come to fruition in 2012.

With that in mind, here are some of my writing goals for 2012;

1. Finish and sell the adult book I’m working on now.

2. Finish the adult book I started last year (and had to abandon at 35,000 words because of aforementioned scheduling issues with other books) and prepare it for sale.

3. Complete the two short stories I’ve committed to for anthologies.

4. Line up my 2014 YA book to meet my Book-A-Year-For-The-Foreseeable-Future goal. I have a book I’m super excited about and am really excited to get it out there. Hoping that will be my 2014 book.

5. See at least one of the TV/film projects I’m working on move forward, even a little, and work on more in that arena, including a script Kenneth and I are plotting now.

6. Get my three Prophecy novellas out into the world. I know I promised them to you awhile ago, but an opportunity arose that I wanted to see through. Will have more on that — one way or another — soon.

Whew! Kind of scary, but… I got this!

How about you? What are some of your writing goals for the New Year? Share in comments!

<3

 

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12/16/11 Life , Uncategorized #

Win a Manuscript Edit, an Original Song, and Help Someone Along the Way

Some of you probably remember a couple of months ago when I posted about one of my readers, Paul (London) Nieves. London’s mother is very, very ill and in desperate need of a new liver. She’s been on the transplant list, but her status was changed to “inactive” after car trouble sidelined their vehicle to the tune of $2500 they couldn’t afford to pay (transplant recipients must have transportation to get to and from doctor’s appointments and to the hospital in a hurry if an organ becomes available).

I put the word out about London and his family for two reasons; 1) It’s a matter of life or death, and when you have an opportunity to help in a matter of life or death, you do it, and 2) I’ve never met a son who does more for his mother than London does for his mom. He often works more than one job to help pay the bills and spends every second of his free time trying to get his mother to doctor’s appointments, and recently, trying to raise money to get her back on the “active” transplant list.

Unfortunately, no one was able to help when I put out the call a couple of months ago, but then a local news station did a story on London and his mom and some wonderful Good Samaritan came forward to pay the remainder of the repair bill. Now, London is only $420 away from being able to renew the car’s registration and insurance so he can get it back on the road. Once the Nieves’ can prove the car is operable and his mom can get to her doctor’s appointments, she’ll be placed back on the active transplant list.

You can view the original news story here; http://www2.tbo.com/news/2011/dec/08/unpaid-car-repair-bill-got-in-way-of-liv-81323-vi-25308/

The Zink’s really want to help London and his mom, so here’s what we’re going to do;

Kenneth and I are ponying up two pretty awesome prizes in an auction format. Many of you probably don’t know that I do freelance editing on the side. If you don’t know, it’s because I usually work on referral only and can only take editing projects when I’m between writing deadlines of my own. But I’m putting it out here now because it’s the only thing I can think of to help London in a hurry (you can read more about my editing services here).

So I’m offering a full manuscript line and content edit – up to 350 pages – to the highest bidder. This includes a read-through with basic line edits a and summary of the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses, flagging things like phrase repetition, awkward or unrealistic dialog, choppy transitions, and areas of confusion or unnecessary detail as well as providing basic impressions. Correction of typos and grammatical errors are included though this should not be considered a copy edit. I will also provide the winner with a detailed overview of pacing, characterization, point of view, setting, world building (if applicable), extraneous content, and plot holes and anything else that is of particular concern as well as possible work-arounds and ideas where possible as well as suggestions to increase marketability for potential representation and sale.

At my normal rates, this level edit would cost around $1750.00, but I’m offering it up to the highest bidder between now and midnight EST on December 30th.

In addition, Kenneth is offering an original composition (song) for a book trailer or just for you or a loved one. As many of you know, Kenneth composed the trailer music for all three Prophecy trailers. He’s also worked on a trailer for author Lisa Mantchev, a public service announcement for the New York Public Library, and has completed the trailer music for A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS. That trailer will be unveiled soon, but just for stopping by this post, you get a link to the unlisted sneak preview (just a snippet!) of the TEMPTATION theme. You can find other examples of his work on the Projects page of his website here or see the Prophecy trailers on the Books page (Prophecy of the Sisters) of this website. Kenneth will donate a 60-second song to the high bidder of his auction. If you’d like the song for your book trailer and you’re the winner, you will send him a brief summary of your book and a description of the atmosphere you’re looking for in your trailer. You may also include a list of trailers that have a similar look/feel to the one you’d like for your book. If you’d like the song to be for you or a loved one, you can send Kenneth a little backstory, either on yourself or the person for whom you’d like the song composed. Kenneth’s is an amazing composer, and I can think of few things that would be more meaningful to anyone than a song composed just for you/them.

So let’s break it down;

There are TWO auctions here. One for the manuscript edit and one for the original song. To enter, all you have to do is use the COMMENTS form on this post, state which prize you’re bidding on, and then state your bid.

For example; Manuscript Edit $50.00 or Original Song $50.00.

You’re bid must be at least $5 higher than the last bid. Whomever has the winning bid on each prize at Midnight EST on December 30th, wins. Payment must be rendered within three days via Paypal. I will deliver your editorial letter and manuscript notes within two weeks of the date I take delivery. Kenneth will deliver your song within two weeks of the date you provide him with all the applicable information.

Should we raise more than $420, the additional money will be donated to one of three charitable organizations; FEED, Water.org, or 826nyc. I’ll post a poll, you guys can vote, and whichever organizations get the most votes gets the extra money. I chose these three organizations because they’re awesome, and because for me, food, water, and reading/writing are pretty much the stuff of life.

Easy! And wonderful, because it’s a chance to make a life-saving operation available to someone who might not otherwise get it and to lighten the load on a wonderful young man just a little.

Opening bid for both prizes is $25. Ready… go!

0 likes 27 responses
12/06/11 Life #

No One Said It Would Be Easy…

Today I feel like I’m staggering under the weight of the world.

I’m not even sure why. It started yesterday when I read a feature in my local newspaper about how the number of homeless children is at an all-time high in America. The story featured several local families that are really struggling – parents living in subsidized motel rooms with their kids while the mother studies to be a Nursing Assistant and tries to get a job with no car and one child who can’t afford the .25 for his reduced-price lunch. He’s so embarrassed that he asks his teacher if he can sit in the office during lunch so no one will know he can’t afford to eat. That was the story that really broke my heart, I think.

And somehow I know these stories are only the tip of the iceberg. People everywhere are suffering.

I know there are people out there who will say that life isn’t fair, but is should be. I so WANT it to be.

Why can’t we live in a world where everyone has enough? Children have no say in the families into which they’re born. They shouldn’t suffer because their parents are having a hard time making ends meet. But they do. Each and every day they do.

I turn on the news and see stories of children who are mistreated and hungry and missing, and well… sometimes I just cant bear it. I feel so helpless. How are we supposed to live and be happy and enjoy everything we have when so many people have nothing? Some days I just want to look away, because I feel like the despair will crush me, but that doesn’t seem right, either. To turn away is to deny, in a way, and if all I can do is to SEE, to acknowledge, it seems like I should.

But some days I just can’t. This is one of those days.

<3

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12/05/11 Life , Mystery Monday # ,

Mystery Monday – Transcendantal Meditation

Many of you know that I’m a big believer in meditation. I have definitely bi-polar tendencies coupled with anxiety disorder that can almost cripple me with worry about everything from social gatherings to an unexpected turn of events to everyday minutiae.

Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned what I need to do to make sure I’m okay. Taking care of myself physically, emotionally, and mentally is a very big part of the equation. As long as I eat right, plan ahead as much as possible, eliminate negative people from my life when and where I can, take vitamins daily (including the magical B Complex – a must for anyone who tends toward depression or anxiety), have time for my writing, and practice yoga and/or meditating, I can generally keep from feeling like I want to crawl out of my own skin.

Yoga and meditation have been truly key in managing my BPD and anxiety. If I skip them for a couple of days, the stress creeps back in and I start to feel like I just want to crawl under the covers and disappear (something I can never do even when I want to because, well, I have responsibilities). Up until now, I’ve practiced mostly mindful meditation which involves being in the moment, and (for me) focusing only on my breath, in and out. It’s harder than it sounds to tune everything out! But It really does make an amazing difference. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly depressed/angry/resentful/bitter/hurt, I’ll use a mantra or I’ll imagine all the bad stuff leaving my body and spirit with my breath on the exhale.

Lately, I’ve become very interested in a thousands-year old form of meditation called Transcendental Meditation (TM). Favored by creative people, TM is said to allow one to access a higher plane of consciousness, the very source of thought, also called the Unified Field. This insight is said to open up one’s view of the world, one’s art, everything!

It’s different from mindful meditation in that mindful meditation keeps the mind busy by focusing on a given thing (breathing, mantra, etc) while TM focuses on a sound, given to you by a meditation teacher, that you repeat over and over. This is supposed to allow your mind to settle into a place of deeper alert, restful consciousness.

Tons of artistic people are advocates of TM including filmmaker David Lynch, Musicians Paul McCartney and Sheryl Crow, and director Clint Eastwood, among many others. David Lynch, in particular is a tremendous advocate for the method, crediting it for eliminating a persistent sense of anger he’d carried around his whole life in addition to feeding his (brilliant!) creative mind.

You can hear David Lynch speak about TM – what it is and how it changed him – below. You can also learn more about TM at http://www.tm.org/.

I’m listing this as a mystery because I find it fascinating to contemplate the possibility that reaching a higher and/or different level of consciousness can impact one’s sense of peace, artistic perspective, and general happiness.

What do you guys think?!

<3

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10/17/11 Life , Uncategorized #

Creepy Cake N Bake; Not-So-Creepy, Crawly SPEE-IDER!

Here it is, guys; The Creepy Cake N Bake-a-Thon is ON! Rebekah and I took up the challenge of creating a super creeptastic cake in a bake-off with my esteemed fellow authors and bakers.

Unfortunately, we tend to do cute better than creepy – at least when it comes to cakes (as you all know, books are another thing entirely). I blame my weak stomach. You know you’re not cut out for creepy visuals when you lose your appetite watching an episode of the X-Files (or when you look at Saundra Mitchell’s Zombaby Bread or Brenna Yovanoff’s Cardiac Event – Blech! Links below).

Still, it’s hard to lament my lack of creepy baking skills when I look at our AH-dorable SPEE-IDER (you have to say this part in a whisper, like Megamind). Come on, admit it; He’s CUTE!

Here’s what we did.

Made two round chocolate cakes (I’d give you our secret family recipe, but then I’d have to kill you) plus one good size cupcake.

Used a bowl as a template to cut one of the rounds into a slightly smaller circle which we then placed on top of the larger one.

Placed the cupcake at the front of the cake to act as the head.

Smothered the whole thing in ganache, which if you’ve never tried it, is the food of the Gods. Seriously, you guys. All you have to do is take equal parts dark chocolate pieces (or chips) and heavy cream. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave, pour it over the chocolate bits, and let it sit. After about ten minutes, take a rubber spatula and stir this glorious concoction into the silky chocolaty goodness it was meant to be. Hint; the longer you let it sit and the more times you stir, the thicker it gets.

It’s better than any chocolate frosting you can buy, I promise. Plus, it results in the glossy finish you see on our SPEE-IDER!

We put the cake in the fridge for a bit to let the ganache set and then piled on the pretty pink Snoballs you see in the picture. Don’t ask me why we chose these. Then I’d have to tell you it’s mostly because they were pretty and they looked a little hairy.

*gags*

Also, don’t ask me what’s in Snoballs. I HAVE NO IDEA.

After that we took two round, white Canada mints (why do they call these Canada mints? Do they only eat them in Canada? Did they really originate there? Inquiring minds want to know!) and Rebekah painted on the round pupils with black food dye. Those became our eyes, set into the cupcake (and if you press a little, it gives the spider little eyebrows).

Lastly we used a tiny piece of red licorice lace to make the mouth and black licorice ropes with one end stuck in the cake for legs.

Voila! Behold the… SPEE-IDER!!!! (don’t forget the jazz hands when you say this. Everything tastes and looks better with jazz hands).

Now it’s time for you to vote and possibly WIN!

Vote for your favorite entry by commenting below. You can comment on EVERY Cake N Bake post, one entry per post, for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble or an official Creepy Cake N Bake doll! Please include your email in order to be entered to win.

Trophies will be awarded on Halloween for the top creeptastic creations. Winners will be chosen by our special Celebrity Judge, Adam Rex, author of such deliciously creepy creations such as FAT VAMPIRE, FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE, FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH, and PSSST!

Check the list of contestants and their post dates so you don’t miss any of the fun:

Mon Oct. 3 – Saundra Mitchell
Wed Oct 5 – Stacey Jay
Friday Oct 7 – Erin Dionne
Saturday Oct 8 – Sydney Salter
Mon Oct 10 – Brenna Yovanoff
Wed Oct 12 – Tara Hudson
Friday Oct 14 – Karen Healey
Saturday Oct 15 – Robin Bridges
Mon Oct 17 – Michelle Zink
Wed Oct 19 – Julia Karr
Friday Oct 21 – Victoria Schwab
Saturday Oct 22 –
C.Lee McKenzie
Sunday Oct 23 –
Emily Kristin Morse
Mon Oct 24 –
Natalie Zaman
Wed Oct 26 –
Stephanie Burgis
Friday Oct 28 –
Dawn Metcalf

0 likes 15 responses
10/15/11 Firday Poll , Life , Uncategorized # ,

The Friday Poll – On Saturday

Last week, I saw this picture on Facebook of beautiful model Tara Lynn. It was accompanied by the following story;

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

“Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness. They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia. They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish? They would have no sex life and could not bear children. Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad. And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated. Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: “How amazing am I ?! ”

I thought this was a beautiful story about finding and accepting oneself as beautiful at any size. I don’t have any problem with thin, fit, slender women. I just think it’s important that we accept the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Slender women have opportunities to feel beautiful and sexy every day. A photo like this one just gives everyone the opportunity to feel beautiful.

So tonight’s poll (on Saturday instead of Friday, because I’m crazy like that) is about body image. Not the way you see other people, but the way you see YOU.

Weigh in (no pun intended!)!!!

<3

0 likes 3 responses
10/07/11 Life #

A Hand Across the Bridge

I may post the Friday Poll in a bit, but first, I have a very important favor to ask of you.

It’s come to my attention that one of my wonderful, caring readers is in trouble. This particular young man is wholly devoted to his mother, who is currently on the list for a liver transplant. He spends all his free time driving her to and from her doctor’s appointments, often going without sleep to work and care for her.

Recently, things began to look up when they were notified that his mother had met the criteria to be put on the National Registry for a transplant.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter their only vehicle died. With a $2500 repair estimate and no other way to get his mother to the hospital, this young man faces a terrible dilemma. He can’t pay for the repairs but if he doesn’t get his mother to her appointments, she will be dropped from the registry.

I have often said that if I were ever in a position to help others, I would do my utmost to do so. As my mom says, “Sometimes people just need a hand across the bridge.” Sometimes that hand comes in the form of money, sometimes it’s a friend to be there in a dark hour or a place to stay or some food for a table.

But I started thinking; There are a lot of us. I know my readers are the most wonderful, caring people in the world. There MUST be a way we can help this young man and his mother. There MUST be someone in Tampa, Florida (or nearby) who has a car they aren’t using (no matter how decrepit!) or is a mechanic or knows a mechanic who could fix their vehicle either at no cost or through some other kind of manageable arrangement.

So I’m asking you guys to spread the word, ask around, see what you can do. Put a call out on Facebook and Twitter for people living in Tampa. See if anyone out there is willing to extend a hand across the bridge to this young man. He’s doing his very best to hold it together, but he is only one person.

We are many.

If you need more info or think you can help, please contact me on Facebook or Twitter or email me at prophecypress@aol.com. I’m going to try and come up with some kind of fundraising idea in case this doesn’t work out, but we have to start somewhere.

<3

0 likes 6 responses
09/23/11 Life # ,

I’m Back!

I’m baaaaaaack! WOOT!

After a very long ten days with no website and a WHOLE lot of stress surrounding the problem, the amazing Shawntelle Madison, author of the upcoming COVETED (Ballantine Books, April 24th, 2012), came to my rescue and rebuilt the entire site in just over 24 hours. It was the BEST experience I’ve had with a website developer so far. Shawntelle was easonably priced, super responsive (I got PROGRESS REPORTS!), and very fast.

What say we all buy Shawnteelle’s book in April to thank her?!
😀

Anyway, things might look slightly different since the site had to be rebuilt from old screen shots. On the downside, we don’t have a Forum anymore. I really wanted to get the main site up and running before I worry about the Forum, but if you guys decide you still want one, I can look into having it rebuilt. It was a nice place to hang out and chat when everyone had the time.

On the UP side, there is now a link to the Prophecy Merchandise Store on Zazzle. We’ll be adding more products over time — including products for A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS. I’ll also be hosting a merchandise-related contest very soon, so stay tuned.

On the OTHER up side, information for A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS and its beautiful cover are now part of the site, which is something I’ve been trying to make happen since August. So happy to have it up with my gorgeous Prophecy covers!

Anyway, we’re back!!! I missed you guys so much!
*squooshes readers in ginormous hug*

<3

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
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