michelle zink

03/02/15 Uncategorized , Writing # , , , , , ,

Online Young Writers Series Week One; Preparation

Welcome to Week One of the Online Series for Young Writers.

*throws confetti and hands you a pretty mocktail*

😉

If you were here last week, you know that I announced this eight-week series as a way to give writing advice for teenagers and other young people. You can find that post, which breaks down the topic for each week, here.

This week’s topic is What You Can do Now (Prepping for Your Future Writing Career). I chose this as a week one topic because it’s one of the questions I get most often at book events when talking to young writers. Sometimes it’s phrased differently.

“What is your best advice for young writers?”

“What’s the most important thing for a young writer to know?”

“Did you write when you were young?”

But these are all really asking the same thing. “What can I do NOW?” And I totally get it. If you’re fifteen or sixteen or seventeen and still in high school, your future as a writer can seem a world away, which can make anything you do now seem pointless anyway.

But it’s not. Trust me.

In fact, this is the BEST time to lay groundwork for your career as a writer. Why? Well, for one, you have more free time than you will ever have in your life (unless you’re training to be a ballerina or for the Olympics trials or something like that). I know it might not seem that way. You have school and friends and parents and chores and homework and school events and probably multiple sports and/or extra-curricular clubs. Maybe even a part time job. But you also have weekends and holidays and breaks. You have TV and social networking time you can trade for time to write or read or research.

And here’s what you DON’T have; kids, a house to run, groceries to shop for, a full time job (probably), a spouse who needs your attention, bills to pay, dry cleaning to take in or pick up, older parents who need you to help care for them, etc., etc.

The truth is, it will never be EASY. Making time for something you feel passionately about rarely is in the modern world. But there are times in life when it will be easier than others, and for 99% of you, this is one of those times.

The other good news is that LOTS of unexpected things fall under the category of preparing yourself to be a writer. Of course, writing is very important.

Writing is good! You should do it as much as you can!

🙂

But reading is also part of being a great writer. Stephen King has famously said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

It’s THAT important, guys. So every hour you clock reading? That COUNTS as writing prep. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, whether you’re reading the newspaper or an essay for school. Something crazy happens when you read; your brain processes EVERYTHING, even when you don’t realize it. It’s making little notes about which sentences are pleasing to the ear, which phrases sound “right”. It’s leaving little bookmarks in your brain that your subconscious will go back to later, bookmarks that will tell you (when you’re writing), “That’s too long” or “That sentence sounds clunky” or “That’s not the word I’m looking for” . These bookmarks tell you when you’re bored, when you check out of a story, and when you sit up straighter in the moment a story gets your full attention.

And all that stuff STAYS WITH YOU. It stays with you even if you don’t know it’s there. The next time you sit down to write? Your writing will be informed by all the lessons you’ve learned, often unwittingly, while you’ve been reading.

All of this is why READING is #1 on my list of Things You Need to Make Time for if You Want to be a Writer.

Even before writing.

But of course, writing is next. If you want to be a writer, it’s probably because, well, you enjoy writing.

🙂

So make some time for it on a regular basis. It can be every day before bed or every Saturday at 10am, but make time to write SOMETHING, even if it’s just a journal entry or a poem or a snippet of a story idea or a stream-of-consciouness rant about something that’s ticking you off. As with reading, you will learn while you write, even if you don’t realize it. I’ve found that earmarking a certain time of day or certain day of the week for writing makes it more likely that I’ll actually do it (more on this later in Week Seven; Keeping the Balls in the Air (How to Juggle School, Social Life, and Writing)). It can be five minutes before bed in your journal, an hour on Saturday morning to work on a short story, or twenty minutes in Study Hall every other day. But try to find time to write on some kind of regular basis. For me at least, the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to jump back in.

Reason enough to regularly put words on the page!

Now this next one is going to seem obvious. And maybe a little weird because it’s so obvious, but stay with me here.

To be a good writer, you have to THINK.

I’m not just talking about school thinking or studying or thinking about what outfit to wear (although all of those things will also inform your writing in unexpected ways). I’m talking about CHALLENGING yourself to see things in another way.

That kid at school that you can’t stand? What’s his story? What might have made him obnoxious/annoying/rude/disrespectful/ chauvinistic? That person who has a different political viewpoint? Where is she coming from? Does she have any valid points? Can you see why she might feel the way they do? That teacher who seems a little beaten down? What is going on behind the scenes? Has she had a rough morning? What might have happened on in the hours before school (an alarm that didn’t go off in time? A sick child who was up all night? A fender bender? Spilled coffee on a favorite shirt?)? You’ll be surprised by the paths you travel and the ideas you get for stories if you think beyond the obvious.

Which brings me to my next point.

OBSERVE. As writers, most of us do this anyway, but sometimes it’s nice to know all those little thoughts you have throughout the day aren’t for nothing. When you feel anxious before a test, note the physical response; are your hands clammy, is it harder to take a good, deep breath? What does school sound like? What does it smell like? That beautiful sunset? How would you describe it on the page? When you see your crush in the hall, do you feel your cheeks get warm? Do you want to run and hide or profess your undying love? Or maybe both.

😉

All of these things are the stuff of LIVING. And you can’t write about life if you’re not living it.

Lastly, I have a fun assignment for you! Seek out other kinds of stories. Plays! Movies! TV shows! All of these things are stories told in different formats. Not only will they keep your creative juices flowing, but you might just find your interest in writing extends beyond book writing.

Let’s recap! To give yourself the best head start possible for a future writing career;

1) Read as much as you can. Anything! Everything!

2) Pick a consistent time each day or week when you will sit down and write something. Anything!

3) Think. Go beyond the obvious to establish empathy for people who are different than you and to see things in a new way.

4) Observe. Pay attention to the little details that make a story – and life – interesting.

5) Broaden your story horizons.

And lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Adolescence is a busy time for most people. Keep your eye on the ball of what you want for your future, but recognize that all the living you’re doing now is setting you up to write about it later. Someday you’ll be surprised at all you did and learned when you didn’t even know you were doing it! And believe me when I say that you have lots of time for other writing-related stuff after high school (and even college).

Feel free to put your writing questions in Comments. And join me next Monday for Self-Editing, a Checklist.

<3

 

 

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02/24/15 Life # , ,

Making Time

Goethe_Things-That-MatterToday I finally thwarted my most used excuse (“I don’t have time”) for not getting yoga and/or meditation in, and I thought I’d share how I did it. It’s simple, too; I no longer allow myself to open my computer in the morning until I’ve done both.

“Attaching” something to an everyday task is the best way to make it a habit. For awhile, I was attaching meditation to my morning shower, i.e. meditation time was right before I took a shower in the morning. But 3-4 days a week I’d find that I got caught up answering emails, posting to my social networking sites (and YOURS! 😉 ). I’d look at the time and think, “I need to hurry and shower! I guess I’ll try to get everything else in later.” Except “later” never actually materialized as a good time to meditate or do yoga.

Isn’t that always the case with “later”? He’s a tricky little bugger, isn’t he?

😉

Anyway, I thought about the source of my distraction (work) and decided to try putting yoga and meditation BEFORE it instead of after. And you know what? It worked! I’ve had four solid days on this schedule and I feel SO MUCH BETTER.

Is there something you’ve been wanting to make a daily habit? Try attaching it to something you MUST do every day (like brushing your teeth or eating dinner) – but make sure to attach it BEFORE the must-do event and not after. I hope it works as well for you as it’s working for me.

🙂

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02/16/15 Life , Recipe of the Week , Recipes # , , , , , , , ,

The Paleo Vegetarian

Whole30Ha! I got you there, didn’t I? That’s because there’s no such thing.

Except there will be for the next thirty days, because today is the first day of Whole30 for me. As many of you know, I’ve been a vegetarian for the last three years (I guess I would technically be a Pescatarian, since I did sometimes eat fish). It wasn’t as difficult a transition as you might expect. I was ready to eat healthier and also wanted to do my part to contribute to a sustainable way of life for the planet (modern cattle and poultry farming techniques wreak havoc on the planet in more ways than one and require WAY more land and water than an equivalent amount of plant food).

To be honest, I was surprised when my teenagers all decided to go vegetarian, too. But they did, and we all went veggie cold turkey. Immediately we all felt better, more energetic, CLEANER.

Until I didn’t.

About a year ago I started feeling sluggish and tired. After an initial weight loss, I actually started to gain weight, something I didn’t understand because I was eating SO CLEAN. Not just vegetarian, but very little sugar or processed food and tons of whole food, veggies, etc. I didn’t notice it right away. It was more that one day I realized I just didn’t FEEL WELL, and when I looked back, I realized I hadn’t felt my best for quite some time.

So I started reading about body chemistry and metabolism and all kinds of other science-y type things, and I came to the conclusion that I am probably insulin resistant. It doesn’t really surprise me. Some of my family members on one side have diabetes, and I’ve always felt a little shaky when I eat too many carbs or too much sugar. My hope that it would be enough to eat clean and include lots if plant protein just didn’t prove true.

In my reading, I came across the Whole30 program, which is a kind of hard-core, 30-day Paleo regimen designed to help you determine which foods don’t work with your body by first eliminating them, then slowly reintroducing them one at a time. The plan relies heavily on animal flesh and veggies (plus smaller amounts of healthy fats and fruit). After reading the book, the science made perfect sense to me, and I definitely recognized some of the symptoms of insulin resistance in the way I’d been feeling. One of the things I like most about the program is it’s reliance on how YOU feel eating certain foods. The first thirty days is the same for everyone (no sugar, alcohol, carbs, dairy, or legumes of any kind), but after that, it’s up to you to decide which of the restricted foods make you feel healthy and which don’t. This makes perfect sense to me. I know lots of vegans and vegetarians who are super fit and healthy and who FEEL GREAT. I also know lots of people on Paleo-type plans who are equally fit and healthy and who also FEEL GREAT. I think the human body is more mysterious than we are willing to admit. A one-size-fits-all nutritional plan just doesn’t make sense to me. Instead, I think it’s wiser to focus on eating whole foods (processed food and sugar isn’t good for anyone) and then pay attention to our body’s cues to determine what’s best for us.

Today is Day One of the program for me, and while eating meat feels strange, I’m excited to see if this way of eating makes me feel better. I’m a big believer in listening to my own instincts – physical and otherwise. I trust myself to know when something isn’t working for me or my body, so I’m putting faith in myself to recognize when I need to make a change. I’m keeping an open mind and will re-evaluate based on the way I feel at the end of thirty days. The Whole30 plan recommends eating humanely raised, pasture fed meat, and I’ll be doing my best to purchase meat from those kinds of sources.

I don’t AT ALL regret going vegetarian three years ago. In many ways, it’s prepared me for this kind of eating plan. I already eat very little sugar, have flirted with veganism and so don’t rely on dairy, and have already all but eliminated processed food  (trust me, when you stop eating it for awhile it doesn’t even taste good anymore). The biggest change will be giving up brown rice and legumes, because they have been a major part of my diet for the past three years. I’m hoping the novelty of meat will take the sting out, at least for the first week or so.

😉

Anyway, I wouldn’t even be mentioning this here except I know many of you follow my vegetarian recipes (oddly, my Vegetarian Stroganoff recipe is one of my highest-ranking posts) and I didn’t want to confuse you. If you found me while looking for vegetarian recipes, I hope you’ll stick around! I share your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, whatever that may be for each of us, and I look forward to keeping you all posted about my progress.

<3

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02/09/15 A Temptation of Angels , Lies I Told , Life , Prophecy of the Sisters , Shadowguard Series , This Wicked Game , Writing # , , , , , ,

New and Improved

If you’re here I’m sure you’ve noticed something; I finally ditched the old website for something new, sleek, and if I do say so, very chic.

😉

The old website was developed all the way back in 2009 just before Prophecy of the Sisters came out. The black lace made perfect sense, I swear! But of course, times are a changing, and my writing is ever-evolving. With LIES I TOLD soon-to-be-released and a whole slate of other non-fantasy projects (and even non-YA) in the works, I’m hoping this look will carry me through anything I choose to write. Hopefully it’s also easier to read, which is a complaint I sometimes got with the old site.

Now that the new site is up and running, I’ll be posting more often (this has been in the works for awhile). Stay tuned for more information about LIES I TOLD, PROMISES I MADE, and other super secret projects yet-to-be-announced. As we approach April 7th (the release date for LIES I TOLD), there will also be tons of giveaways and goodies.

So stick around, will you?

<3

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01/13/15 Lies I Told # , , , , , , , ,

Another AMAZING Review for LIES I TOLD!

Goodreads_CoverThis time from School Library Journal!

“Zink uses a fabulous vocabulary to build a tale of deception and mixed loyalties that effortlessly draws readers in…”

We’re two for two on snark-free reviews, guys! Plus we got that star from Kirkus!

🙂

 

LIES I TOLD releases April 7 and is available for preorder now.

Gr 9 Up–Fans of romance and a good heist will fall in love with Lies I Told. Grace is a foster child who has been adopted by a pair of con artists, and they are the closest thing she has to a real family. Her brother, another adopted foster child, is finding the life of constant deception increasingly unsatisfactory. He’s ready to get out, and he wants Grace to come with him. Parker’s entreaties would be more successful if Grace wasn’t falling irrevocably in love with their newest mark. Zink uses a fabulous vocabulary to build a tale of deception and mixed loyalties that effortlessly draws readers in and allows them to vicariously experience the tension of living a lie while trying to be completely transparent with a love interest. The victims of the graft are sympathetic characters, and Grace can be forgiven her deception since she must make an untenable choice between first love and familial abandonment or betrayal of a truly good person and an artificial family. Zink liberally includes the palpitating hearts and more mature, steamy love scenes that many young adult readers have come to expect in an action-packed tale, but leaves her readers dangling with an ending that will leave them demanding more.–Jodeana Kruse, R. A. Long High School, Longview,WA

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01/05/15 Lies I Told # , , , , , ,

Kirkus gives LIES I TOLD a STARRED Review!

Goodreads_CoverI’ll let you in on a little secret; some reviews are scarier than others. Kirkus, for example, is known for being on very tough customer. Which is why authors all kind of hold our breath as we wait for their reviews to come in.

And why I’m SUPER EXCITED to announce that Kirkus is giving LIES I TOLD a STARRED review.

The highpoint; “Zink deftly weaves the story together, employing foreshadowing and symbolism to support the plot. Although readers know from the prologue that things will turn out badly, suspense ripples throughout the story. Grace’s character blooms as she balances between the good person she hopes to be and the bad one she’s forced to be. Highly readable, gripping and touching.”

Lies I Told releases April 7, but you can preorder now through Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Huzzah!

Full review as follows;

LIES I TOLD [STARRED REVIEW!]
Author: Michelle Zink

Review Issue Date: January 1, 2015
Online Publish Date: December 10, 2014
Publisher:HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Price ( Hardcover ): $17.99
Price ( e-book ): $10.99
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-06-232712-3
ISBN ( e-book ): 978-0-06-232714-7
Category: Fiction

A girl struggles to hold onto her own identity within her family of thieves. Grace disobeys her parents by keeping mementos from her family’s previous criminal jobs. She hopes she hasn’t completely become the deceptive creature her parents trained her to be from the time they adopted her as a young teen. Now 17, Grace has moved with her family to an affluent area as part of a plot to steal millions in gold from Warren Fairchild, a wildly wealthy but mentally unstable man. Her parents assign Grace to get close to Logan, Fairchild’s son, a task she finds only too easy, as she and Logan truly fall for each other. Grace likes her new friends in Playa Hermosa, making one truly good friend for the first time in her life, her family having moved incessantly to keep up with jobs and ahead of the police. She lives with the realization that she must lie to these good people constantly, and she knows she must betray Logan, whom she loves. Zink deftly weaves the story together, employing foreshadowing and symbolism to support the plot. Although readers know from the prologue that things will turn out badly, suspense ripples throughout the story. Grace’s character blooms as she balances between the good person she hopes to be and the bad one she’s forced to be. Highly readable, gripping and touching. (Thriller. 12-18)

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12/05/14 Advice for Girls , Life # , ,

Advice for Girls #2

girl_in_hammockDo something nice for yourself every day. Seriously. Every day. Taking care of yourself is the most important job you have.

Sound hard? Expensive? Complicated? Time consuming?

It’s NOT. Give yourself a ten minute nap, make a cup of your favorite tea and take ten minutes to actually sit and enjoy it, paint your nails, give yourself a facial, go to a movie (going to the movies alone is fun!), make something nice to eat, buy a new (or used) book or check one out from the library and take some time to read it, have the cupcake, buy a new lip gloss (or climbing rope or light saber), meditate (this is truly the best gift I give myself every day), STRETCH (doesn’t that feel GOOD?!), take a walk…

Just give yourself something you want or need every day. Because let me tell you a little secret; the times when someone else will do it for you are few and far between, and you aren’t doing anyone any favors by neglecting yourself. You will BE better at everything, and more importantly, you will FEEL better when you are taken care of. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

<3

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12/03/14 AdviceforGirls , Life # , , ,

Advice for Girls #1

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to learn that I’m a ponderer. It’s hard for me to turn my brain off even to sleep, which is probably why meditation has been such a lifesaver for me. We NEED white space in our brain, wide open space with no words or thoughts.

But I realized that a lot of the things I think about are things I wish I’d known when I was younger. Younger, like, twenty years ago, and younger, like, two years ago.

😉

 

So I decided to start documenting those thoughts in a simple way, on my social media sites with the hashtag #AdviceforGirls. I like to think they will come at just the right time for someone, and maybe in a parallel universe, a younger me will hear it too.

So today’s #AdviceforGirls is this; You are allowed to want whatever you want without apology. Period.

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12/01/14 Life , Reading # , , , , , , , ,

A Quick and Easy Gift for the Reader on Your List!

Prophecy_PB_COVER_HRNeed a personal book for the reader on your list? I’ve got you covered!

😉

Right now through 12/8 you can purchase ANY of my books (online or in person) from Oblong Books and Music and I’ll sign and personalize it for you in time for the holidays. That includes Prophecy of the Sisters, Guardian of the Gate, Circle of Fire, A Temptation of Angels, and This Wicked Game.

Nothing makes a better gift for a book lover than a signed book, plus you’ll be supporting an awesome Indie.

Just order here and tell me to whom you’d like the book signed. Easy peasy!

🙂

 

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11/13/14 Life # , , , , , , ,

You Are Not In Jeopardy

All_Is_WellIf I ever get a tattoo, this is what it will say.

I think these words often, ever since I read a quote that went something like; “Do not for a moment entertain the idea that you are in jeopardy.” I wish I could remember who said it! Rumi maybe?

In any case, those words changed the way I think about fear and worry and strife and the never-ending obstacles that can feel like a necessary part of life’s bargain. As soon as I read them, I felt a burden lifted from my shoulders. Of course, I know now that this is because all our fear and stress and anger and disappointment is a result not of the events that happen in our lives, but of the way we think about them and our attachment to the outcome. But back then I only knew that I felt… relief at the idea that I am okay.

I AM NOT IN JEOPARDY.

What powerful words. My mantra, ALL IS WELL, is just a shorter way of saying it.

I repeat the phrase often. I repeat it when I’m worried about paying for braces or college or about that strange sound coming from my car (and how much it’s going to cost to fix). I repeat it when I wonder if — yes, IF — I will sell another book and when I’m feeling like a hack and a has-been (it happens more often than you might think). I repeat it when I wonder if my brand is shot to hell from writing different kinds of books and if I’ll ruin my career by doing something bold and ill-advised. I repeat it when I’m thinking about my kids moving out of the house and the now-imminent moment (exhilarating and terrifying!) when I will have long stretches of time to fill with something other than the mindless tasks of making lunches and driving people everywhere.

These simple words have the power to calm the shallow breath and knotted stomach of anxiety. They have the power to ground me in an instant – whether I’m driving in the car saying them out loud or standing in a check out line repeating them in my head. But I know it isn’t the words themselves that do the job. It’s the knowledge — the REMINDER — that all really IS well. It’s well because I say it’s well. It’s well because, in the words of another famous, unattributed quote, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not, it’s not the end.” The only sure thing in life is that everything is always changing. Don’t like what’s going on, how you’re feeling, what someone is saying? Ride it out and it will pass. Try it the next time you are worried or scared or beaten down. Take a few slow, calming breaths and say the words.

All is well. I promise.

<3

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11/06/14 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , ,

LIES I TOLD Sneak Peek and ARC Giveaway

Goodreads_CoverRight now on Goodreads you can enter to win one of three advance copies. Which is the perfect excuse to give you guys a sneak peek.

😉

 

Looking back, I should have known Playa Hermosa was the beginning of the end. We’d had a good run, and if things were sometimes tense between Mom, Dad, and Parker, it was nothing a new job couldn’t fix. Just when they’d be at each other’s throats, we’d move on to a new town.
 
And there was nothing like a new town to remind us which team we were on.

But Playa Hermosa was different. It was like another world. One where the old rules didn’t apply. Like the exotic birds on the peninsula, we were suddenly all on our own.
 
Except it didn’t feel like that right away. In the beginning, it was business as usual. Plot the con, get into character, work our way in, stick together.
 
I don’t know if it was my relationship with Logan that tipped everything over the edge or if the signs had been there long before. Either way, I tell myself it was for the best. The universe seems to have its own mysterious plan. I guess we’re just along for the ride. I can live with that. The harder part, the impossible part, is living with what I did to Logan and his family.
 
We knew what we were doing. Knew the risks. But Logan and his family were good. Maybe the first really good people I’d ever met. They loved each other, sacrificed for each other. Not because they didn’t have anyone else, but because that’s what love is.
 
What happened to them is my fault. And I’m still trying to figure out if I can live with that.
 
Then there’s Parker. Deep down, I know the choice was his. But I can’t help wondering if he stuck around because of me. If he hadn’t, everything would be different, and he’d probably be drinking beer in Barcelona or coffee in Paris or something.
 
I can’t think about the other stuff. Thinking about it forces me back to the question; Why didn’t I see it? Had the end of our family been one sudden, impulsive decision that set into motion a string of events that changed everything? Or had it all been a long time coming? I think that would be worse, because if it was true, it meant that I was hopelessly, unforgivably naive.
 
And there’s no crime as unforgivable as naivety when you’re on the grift.

 
Entering is easy!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

Lies I Told

by Michelle Zink

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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10/30/14 Contests & Giveaway , Lies I Told # , , , , , , , , ,

LIES I TOLD Giveaway!

Remember when I ran that LIES I TOLD ARC giveaway a couple of months ago and over 1100 people entered in two weeks? Well, I have MOAR ARCs to give away!

Three of them!

All you have to do to enter is click a button on Goodreads. Then you’ll get to read my new book five months before it comes out — PLUS get the ending that didn’t appear in the final copy.

Fun! And easy!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

Lies I Told

by Michelle Zink

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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10/20/14 Life # , , , ,

You Are Terrifying and Strange…

warsan_shire_quote1It took me a long time to understand that not everyone will know how to love me. That’s okay. But it’s also okay to insist on the kind of love you deserve. It might mean that it takes longer to find the right people. It might mean there are fewer of them. But in the end, the people who know how to love you — just as you are — are the people you need in your life. As for the others; send them light and love and let them go. In the meantime, learn to love yourself like the most gentle of friends, the most passionate of lovers, the kindest and wisest of mentors. Because the most important thing of all is that you know how to love you.

Have a wonderful week, sweet friends.

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10/14/14 Life , Recipe of the Week , Recipes # , , ,

Vegetarian Sausage and Biscuits

sausage_biscuitsIt’s been surprising to realize how little I miss from my meat-eating days. I’m going on three years being vegetarian, and the truth is, I rarely crave anything with meat these days. Part of that is because there are so many vegetarian substitutes for meat products, and we’re lucky enough to live in an era where most of them are really very good. The other part of it is that my taste buds have changed. I mostly crave “live” food (vegetables and fruit), and if I go too long eating a lot of pasta or bread or rice, it’s salads and fresh fruit that I really want.

That said, every now and then you hear the call of some forgotten food, often with associations of comfort or childhood. Sausage and biscuits has been on my list for the last few weeks, so I finally decided to try and make it veggie. And you know what? It rocked. Really, it was almost indistinguishable from the meat version. Even the kids said it was the best sausage gravy EVER. Plus it was super easy and took about twenty minutes.

Hope you enjoy it!

Biscuits and Vegetarian Sausage Gravy

14 oz. vegetarian sausage (I used Good Life’s non-GMO version in a tube)

4 cups vegetable broth (I made my own with 4 cups of water and 4 tsp of Better Than Bouillon vegetable paste)

4 tablespoons corn starch

1 cup Greek yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the vegetarian sausage in a little oil (I use grapeseed oil), breaking apart with a spatula or wooden spoon while it cooks. While the sausage is browning, whisk together the broth and corn starch.

Once the sausage is brown and a little crispy, add the broth and corn starch mixture. Whisk on and off for about two minutes or until the gravy is thickened.

Turn off heat and whisk in yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste (liberal pepper adds a nice Southern flavor to the gravy).

Pour over your favorite biscuits. Or rice. Or potatoes. Or basically anything.

Enjoy!

🙂

 

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09/25/14 Life # , ,

Go Out Into the World and Do Good

Go_Into_the_WorldSometimes you just need a reminder of why we’re really here. <3

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09/22/14 Life # , , , , , , ,

Let It Breathe

hafiz_quoteFor years now I’ve had a recurring dream. The details are never exactly the same, but I’m always lost someplace, trying desperately to get out because I MUST be somewhere else immediately. When my children were younger, it was usually that I was supposed to pick them up, and I knew they were waiting for me on the other side of a mall or city or office building that I couldn’t seem to navigate. Floors changed from gymnasiums to hospitals, hallways turned into mazes from which there was no escape, and city blocks seemed to morph before my eyes into an unrecognizable landscape. I’d end up wandering around, thinking, “But that corner was RIGHT HERE.”

Saturday night I dreamed that I was in a strange kind of dorm with my daughter. We were supposed to man a booth for charity at a flea market, but we’d both woken up late. She wanted to throw clothes on and go, but I preferred to take a quick shower first so I wasn’t so out of it. We were still negotiating when she decided to leave without me. So I tried to find my way there, but the harder I tried to escape the dorm building, the more lost I became. Eventually I decided to go to the first floor, reasoning there would at least be access to an exit, but when I got there it was a hospital with sick people in every room and no exits I could find. When I went back up to the second floor, it had become a sports arena, and in my dream, I wasn’t even sure I’d been on the second floor of the dorm to begin with.

And all the while, the minutes ticked by. I kept checking clocks on the walls only to find that it had become so late in the afternoon that there was hardly a point trying to get to the flea market at all. I woke up panicked, with a familiar knot of anxiety in my chest that told me how wound up I’d been even in my sleep.

After that, I thought a lot about why I keep having these dreams, and why they make me so anxious, and I realized it’s never the being LOST that freaks me out; it’s always the fact that I’M SUPPOSED TO BE SOMEWHERE ELSE. It’s that ticking clock telling me I’m late, that itinerary telling me I have somehow failed my responsibilities. Such an obvious connection to real life that “metaphor” hardly applies!

It seems there’s always someplace else I’m supposed to be, something else I should have done by now. I’m never where I believe I SHOULD be. Shouldn’t I be on some bestseller list somewhere by now? Shouldn’t I have won some kind of award? Shouldn’t there be a movie or TV show about ONE of my books? Shouldn’t I have more financial security? And this isn’t an entitlement thing. It’s a “what the hell have I been doing with myself?” thing.

But the answer is simple. I’m on the road. I’m working and raising kids and learning and growing and experimenting (when I have the luxury), and yes, making mistakes, too. I’m here because I need to be here, and because there is some purpose to this particular hallway, this particular floor. There is something important I haven’t yet seen or done on this city block, and I think I will be better off if I just stop looking at the clock and instead take a deep breath and look around.

<3

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09/12/14 Movie Monday , Uncategorized # , , , , , , , , ,

Begin Again

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight

After seeing Boyhood, we decided we HAD to watch the rest of Richard Linklater’s films. We were not disappointed with this trilogy of films about two strangers who spend one night walking around Austria, just talking and getting to know each other, followed by their interaction at two later dates. Simple and sweet. Streamed two of the movies from Amazon and rented one of them from Redbox.

 

Begin Again

We were super lucky a couple of weeks ago to get free passes to two different movies through AMC and their Stubs reward program. Begin Again was one of them, and I was totally blown away by how much I loved this movie. Witty and smart, it’s definitely one of the year’s best Indie dramas. If you’re looking to be uplifted in that authentic life-is-difficult-but-it-will-all-be-okay kind of way, this is your movie. Saw at AMC, courtesy of free passes from the AMC Independent Facebook page.

 

As Above/So Below

This was our other free movie from AMC, and as horror movie aficionados, we were super excited to see it. I wouldn’t say it was groundbreaking, but it was a fun ride, and the Paris catacombs as a setting was a nice touch. Saw at AMC courtesy of AMC Stubs and Fandango.

 

A Night in the Woods

Speaking of horror movies, we’re always on the lookout for good ones that flew under the radar. The Tribeca designation has begun to symbolize smart, innovative filmmaking in the genre, so we were anxious to give this one a try. It didn’t quite hold up to The Resolution, but it was a quality film that definitely gave us the creeps. The English moor setting was unique, and I think you’ll like this one if you’re a fan of movies like The Blair Witch. Streamed from Amazon.

 

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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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