The tortured artist stereotype is killing our best and brightest

Linkin Park QuoteOn May 18th of this year Chris Cornell, one of my favourite singers and a minor rock and roll legend, died by suicide. I wrote part of this article, then shelved it, too heartbroken to finish. I nursed my wounds, the moment passed, and life went on.

On July 20th Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park,  was found dead, another suicide. And I knew I had to finish this, no matter how much it hurt. This is a conversation we need to have.

A note before we get started

I don’t presume to know why Chester Bennington–or anyone else–felt suicide was the only way out of his pain. What I’d like to say is rooted in my own experiences as a creative person who’s struggled with depression for almost thirteen years. Several artists and writers I know have admitted to struggling with similar thoughts and issues, but I cannot presume to speak for them.

All I can do is tell you my own story and hope it will mean something to you.

Author Spotlight: Sharon Ledwith

CoverLostandFoundsmall Today I’m thrilled to introduce a dear friend of mine, author Sharon Ledwith. I’ve known her since back in the Musa Publishing days (2011-2014) and I’ve been thrilled to see her go on to do bigger, better things with her books. Today she’s here to celebrate the recent release of her latest novel, Lost and Found: Welcome to Fairy Falls.

The Blurb

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey realizes that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the

animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well. Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Using Twitter chats to connect with other writers

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2
Hi folks! Today I’m once again participating in the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a blog hop for writers who want to learn from each other and build a community. This month I’m going to write about one of my favourite ways to connect with other authors: Twitter chats! Of all the things I’ve tried, I’ve found Twitter chats the most effective way of building my professional network and social media prowess. With any luck today’s advice will inspire you to harness this wonderful opportunity to propel your own career forward.

#Ownvoices Author Spotlight: Meredith Katz

hairtothethrone400 Today I’d like to introduce author Meredith Katz. Her Pandemonium series of fantasy novellas is filled with a cast of remarkably varied queer characters. She’s shared some of the process behind her most recent novella, Hair to the Throne, along with her views on representation in publishing–and how we can all work to improve it.

I hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed chatting with her!

The Blurb

The city of Flecton is ruled with an iron fist by Demon Prince Vehr, whose human citizens suffer under demonic enslavement and live in fear of her ever-watchful presence. The prince herself is never seen, living in her underground palace and sending demons to kidnap skilled humans to serve her.

Ten years earlier, Merle’s best friend and closest confidante Abeille, a promising silversmith, was taken to Vehr’s palace. Now, Vehr seeks a hairdresser, and Merle has exactly the skills she needs. Surviving the hairy situation will take more than wits—it’ll take good people to rely on, old friends and new.

Why you should never feel guilty about taking time to write

stressAs a freelance writer and an author with 20 books outlined and only one published, I always feel guilty when I do literally anything other than write, but I know the opposite is true for many writers. They–and probably you–have day jobs, families, and friends vying for their limited time, not to mention all the things that need to happen to keep their homes and bodies running properly. They feel guilty taking time away from these things to write, and when they do get their butt into the chair, there’s always a voice nagging them with all the other things they could be doing.

Once upon a time, I struggled with this type of guilt too. Then I realized how much it weighed me down, how it made it difficult to get into the flow when I finally did get to work, and how it was generally ruining my life. So every time the guilt reared its ugly head, I reminded myself why this writing thing I do is so important, and why it’s worth the time.

If you’re struggling, these reminders might just help you too.

#InkRipples: Why I’ve always been drawn to villains

inkripplesblueandgreen-1

This week I’m joining the wonderful Mary Waibel, Kai Strand, and Katie L. Carroll for this month’s #InkRipples challenge, and we’re talking about heroes & villains. Those of you who follow me on the social medias (@DiannaLGunn on Twitter or d_l_gunn on Instagram) won’t be surprised that I’ve chosen to focus on the villains. You see, I’ve always been drawn to them. Villains fascinate me, and often I find myself empathizing more with them than with the heroes.

Today we’re going to talk about why.

Author Spotlight: Emily Mundell

tsatsfront.jpg Today I’m thrilled to be introducing Emily Mundell, a fellow young author whose first published book, The Sorceress and the Squid, came out earlier this month. I’m excited to pick up a copy of this hilarious-sounding novel and I hope you will be too!

The Blurb

In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard. On their journey they face challenges and revelations that will ultimately decide not only their own fates, but the fate of all of Perth.

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: How to be a good beta reader or critique partner

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2
This week I’m participating in the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a blog hop for writers who want to learn from each other and build a community. I’ve participated in this excellent blog hop since its creation a couple months ago, and last month I discussed how to find beta readers & critique partners online. Often some or all of these people will also be writers, and they’ll ask you to read their work as well. Almost all of my betas/critique partners have also been writers, and I’ve beta read several novels and dozens of short stories.

Every time I beta read or critique someone else’s work, I learn more about giving feedback–and more about the writing craft itself. Today I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned.

Author Spotlight: SM Henley

2016-494 eBook Sue Clynes, Scratching in the Dirt, B01Today I’d like to introduce SM Henley, an urban fantasy writer who rapid-fire published their first three novels, the Written by Birds trilogy, earlier this year. She’s been kind enough to share the inspiration and process behind her first novel, Scratching in the Dirt, with us today! I hope you’ll enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it.

The Book

A father in Hell, a dead lover, and a demon gangster on her tail. Today is the best day of Tazia’s life.

Demons are taking savage control of the disillusioned and down-at-heel. Half-vampire, Tazia, wants no part in it. She’s embracing her first taste of freedom in one hundred and fifty years. But liberty doesn’t come easily. When her celebrations are interrupted by a psychopathic angel, she is forced into a distasteful alliance to save the demon who was once her jailer.

Assisted by her best friend, a sex-addicted technomancer called Billy, she struggles to free herself from the angel’s evil plan. No easy task, when faced with resistance from a demonic terrorist, and pursued by her ex-lover—a human mercenary now out for her blood. If she fails, will Tazia ever regain her freedom or will she be forced back into a life of tortuous incarceration?

Scratching in the Dirt is the first in the Written by Birds trilogy, and is an adult urban fantasy novel set on the streets of modern-day Turin, London, and Detroit. It treads lightly in the darkness, with not a small amount of blood and gritty humor. Just ask the birds.