Writing Tips from Author, Marielena Zuniga

July 16, 2015

I'm excited to welcome Marielena Zuniga to my blog today for the writing tips segment. She'll be talking about using meditation to help your writing. I personally really loved this post because I have a lot of trouble focusing and staying on task.



Here is a bit about Marielena:


Marielena Zuniga is a creative writer and award-winning journalist of more than thirty-five years. She has been a staff writer for newspapers and magazines and worked in public relations in corporate and nonprofit environments. 


For the last ten years, her writing has focused on spirituality and women's issues and her feature articles have appeared in national and international magazines. She has earned prestigious journalism awards and her inspirational writing has won a few awards in the Writers Digest Magazine Annual Writing Competition. 


Her first novel "Loreen on the Lam: A Tennessee Mystery" (iPulp Fiction) http://www.ipulpfiction.com/indexLOREEN.html draws on her Southern roots. She was born in Texas and spent her summers as a child in Tennessee. Her book is a far cry from her inspirational writing and her quiet, spiritual personality and has been known to make people laugh, which still amazes her. She resides in Bucks County, PA. 


And now, here's Marielena:


How meditation can help your writing


I used to meditate. A lot. You know – that process where you sit down, light some candles or incense, and attempt to quiet your thoughts. Some days my “monkey mind” was all over the place with my to-do list, never in the present moment.


Other times I fell into a zone of deep peace and the comforting “now” where I focused on my breathing, forgetting past and future. Whatever happened was OK. No judgments. I simply allowed whatever was there – to be.


Now, I’m returning to mindfulness meditation as a daily practice for many reasons. And one of them is for my creative writing.


What is mindfulness meditation? Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, defined it as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”


Now don’t let that scare you. Those are all ingredients to help your writing and enhance creativity. And I’ll let you in on a secret. You can’t fail at mindfulness meditation because it’s all about accepting WHATEVER is happening during the practice, no matter what it is.


So, how, can meditation help with the writing process? You’d be surprised.


A safe space to take risks. As a writer, I am always a little anxious. I am always putting myself “out there” – something that’s never been easy for me. When I quiet my thoughts, I can find a safe spot to land, a place that soothes the raw edges of my insecurities and helps me become a bit more of a risk taker in my writing.


Frees us from perfection. The mind loves to judge. As a writer, I am my own worst critic. I tend to feel what I’ve written is never good enough. But when I meditate, I give myself permission to be free of my own tyrannical judgments, as well as the opinions of others. I tend to be more gentle with myself. And while revisions are necessary, I reach a point of acceptance in my drafts. In one of my favorite books, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” Annie Dillard writes: “The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying.”


Being in the flow. Because meditation allows me to be open to my creative self, I find that words often flow more easily than they have in the past. Although writing my mystery “Loreen on the Lam” was hard work, the pieces seem to come together from another place within me. And I loved the process throughout.


Availability to new insights. When I still and quiet the mind, I am listening – not only to my breathing, heartbeat and the hundreds of senseless, random thoughts that run amok through my brain, but I am listening to what wants to be birthed and named. I am listening to the creative source that wants to have a voice. In that silence, insights, perceptions and ideas that may have been buried beneath the chaos of daily life begin to emerge.


So how do you meditate? Here are some simple pointers:


Set aside a time everyday. Try starting out for five minutes. Later you can add more time to your practice.


Find a place where you won’t be distracted. Sit upright, either feet on the floor or cross-legged, whatever is more comfortable. Close your eyes.


Focus on your breathing and only that. Breathe in; breathe out. Feel the breath entering your nostrils and going out.


Your thoughts WILL wander. This is normal. Meditation is NOT about emptying your mind of thoughts. It’s the opposite. You’ll be thinking about everything from what to make for dinner to revising your work in progress. When that happens, simply observe those thoughts, without judgment, let them go, and return the focus to your breath. Again and again and again. This is all part of the practice.


Ultimately, meditation, much like writing, is a discipline. And a practice. But it’s also about letting go and accepting whatever is happening in the moment. And as writers, we are constantly “holding on” to some aspect of our work.


But as artist/author Julia Cameron states so well, “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” When we surrender in meditation to the present moment, we allow a source higher than ourselves to express in our writing – and that can be humbling and surprising!


**********



Loreen Thigpen has a history of making bad decisions. But stealing Josh Montgomery’s tour bus from the Texas prison garage to go see her dying mom in Tennessee might be the worst decision ever.


Loreen on the Lam is chock-full of colorful characters worthy of Elmore Leonard – an escaped con, a battered wife, a deaf-mute Bible salesman and more. You’ll love them or hate them, laugh at them or cry with them, but you’ll root for Loreen in the end.


The plot is a (not-so-) simple road trip. Loreen needs to get from Houston, Texas, to Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, to see her dying mother. The only problem is, Loreen’s in prison. Much of the action takes place in and around a bus Loreen steals – a bus owned by country superstar Josh Montgomery. The journey involves a family mystery, a murder plot, and a dash of mayhem.



Loreen on the Lam: A Tennessee Mystery is available through iPulp Fiction http://www.ipulpfiction.com/indexLOREEN.html and through Amazon and other outlets.


Facebook Author’s Page: http://www.facebook.com/Marielena.Zuniga


Twitter: @marielenazuniga


Blog: Stories for the Journey: Reflections on Writing, Life and the Spirit - https://mezuniga.wordpress.com/


 

Writing Tips by Author, Sandra Carey Cody

July 2, 2015

I am thrilled to welcome author Sandra Carey Cody to my blog this week with a fantastic post about plotting one's novel. Sandy is an amazing writer and a wonderful person. I hope you'll enjoy this post and then check out some of her work! 


Before we begin, here's a bit about your host:


Sandra Carey Cody was born and grew in Missouri, surrounded by a family who loved stories, whether from a book or told on the back porch on a Sunday afternoon. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, mov...


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Writing Tips by Author, K.A. Libby

June 25, 2015

This week I welcome author, K.A. Libby for a guest post in my writing tips segment. Here's a bit about Ms. Libby:



“Beware the Sleeping Dog” is Karla Reidinger’s (k.a. libby) first novel. It hibernated as a tiny germ of an idea for years before she actually started writing the manuscript. Much like George Bernard Shaw's quote above she had an idea. She imagined its growing into a novel. She studied her favorite authors and learned how they developed the goals, obstacles and stakes for the...


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Writing Tips Part 2, Author Augustus Cileone: Using Your Experience in Fiction

June 18, 2015

I'm thrilled to welcome back author, Augustus Cileone to my blog today for his second post in my writing tips series.


In case you forgot, here's a little bit about my guest: 




Augustus Cileone won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponsored by Oak Tree Press, for the novel, A Lesson in Murder, about homicides associated with a Philadelphia Quaker school. His second novel, Feast or Famine, a satire, deals with a traumatized man dealing with his Catholic Italian American upbringing in the 1960's and 19...


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Writing Tips from Author, Augustus Cileone

June 11, 2015

I'm thrilled to welcome author, Augustus Cileone to my blog today for my writing tips series. Gus is a member of my local SINC chapter (Sisters in Crime). I can tell you that he is smart, interesting and accomplished. I'm excited to share his writing tips. Gus will be here today talking about building characters and next Thursday, he will return to discuss using your own experiences in fiction writing.


Here's a little bit about my guest: 




Augustus Cileone won the Dark Oak Mystery Contest sponso...


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Respecting Your Process

June 9, 2015

My Daughter's drawing of a "Plantster" - which is what I am: a cross between a Plotter and a Pantster

Get it? Plotter + Panster = Plantser? Pants with a Plant growing out of them. Tee hee


Last year, I posted about this awesome blog post I had discovered by author, Rachel Aaron wherein she proposed a new way to increase word count. You can read the post that I wrote here. (The bit about Aaron is all the way at the bottom, so scroll down.) What I had gotten out of her post was that if you spend a...


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Authors United Against Child Slavery

May 20, 2015

Psst . . . Please check this out. Remember that Finding Claire Fletcher t-shirt fundraiser I did last year? It was for this very same organization: Operation Underground Railroad. Now these two super awesome authors, Laura Johnston and Donna K. Weaver are going all out to mobilize the writing community in order to raise money for O.U.R. Please check it out. By the way, earlier this year, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation merged with O.U.R. Elizabeth Smart has long supported O.U.R. and I hope you...


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A New Cover and Exciting News

May 19, 2015

Okay, so I was very, very late in posting this so I apologize. But as you've probably already seen somewhere on the web, the new ABERRATION cover is out!  Here it is:



Regina Wamba of Mae I. Design came up with it. I think it is absolutely breathtaking! I'm very excited.


So to celebrate this amazing new cover, my publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing decided to run a 99 cent promotion on the ebook from May 14-18. The exciting new is that during this sale, my little old book cracked Amazon's Top 10...


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Writing Tips from Katie Mettner

May 11, 2015

I am starting a new guest post feature on my blog. It is going to center around writing tips and writing advice. It will likely be irregular, but that's okay. I'll try to label each of the posts under Writing Tips so that once I've got a good store of them, you can just click on that and access them all.


For my very first Writing Tips post, I've invited the lovely Katie Mettner. Right now, she is promoting her novel, Liberty Belle on Kindle Scout. So you'll hear a little about that and then Ka...


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So Many Things . . . An Update!

April 28, 2015

Well, I am happy to say that one of the reasons I haven't been blogging or particularly active on social media, or quick at answering emails or tweets or private messages or . . . you get the picture, is that I've been working hard on my next book. Right now, it's titled COLD-BLOODED. It is the next book in what I hope will become the Jocelyn Rush series. (No, I do not have a release date yet as I still have to polish it and submit it to a publisher). I finished the first draft FINALLY (see p...


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About Me


Lisa Regan I am a crime/suspense writer, author of Finding Claire Fletcher and Aberration available now from Sapphire Star Publishing. I released my third novel, Hold Still in March 2014 which has been picked up by Thomas & Mercer. This Blog is also available at www.lisalregan.blogspot.com for Blogger Folks!

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