Catching Up

In all the madness of the spinning world, with the internet running in all directions as far as even Facebook can see, of all the myriad blogs about basically not much of anything out there in the vast wilderness of cyberspace, you have landed here, the home site of a little-known author who once wrote about Paganism, tends to write about vampires, and let’s be honest here, barely blogs much at all.

Welcome!  Thank you for coming over. Those who have been around my work a while know it’s worth sticking by me, or at least I hope it is and they seem to think it is.  My name is Dianne Sylvan, and I’ll be your writer here at CrazyBeautiful, a blog without a single subject to call its own, without a “brand,” without a clue. I am, in other words, just like most people these days, not sure where to go or what to do but sure we have to DO SOMETHING.

I used to be quite prolific, but bad experiences online and a pretty godawful downturn of my mental illness have kept me from writing for the better part of a year except in fits and snorts.  I’m working on remedying that, so, first of all, please allow me to reintroduce myself and we can start from here.

Name:  Dianne Sylvan

Birthdate:   November 19, 1977

Relevant Astrological Deets:  Scorpio Sun, Scorpio Rising, Pisces Moon, Ravenclaw/Slytherin Cusp

Height/Weight:  5’7″,  approx 350lbs.


  • back of neck:  Ahimsa (nonviolence) in Sanskrit
  • left shoulder blade: spider
  • right shoulder blade: butterfly (my very first ink, awwww)
  • right upper arm: phoenix/lotus
  • left upper arm:  snake
  • left forearm/inner:  “We’re all stories in the end” (Doctor Who quote)

Piercings:  One in each earlobe.

Missing body parts or organs:   Missing gallbladder.  Any sightings please email.

Hair color/length:  Purplish or bluish, pixie cut, very short.

Overall appearance:   Enormously fat.  Really, that’s the first thing you’ll notice, so there you have it.  I have pretty eyes, excellent skin, pretty hands and feet, and am exceedingly buxom, but let’s be honest, I’m fat, that’s what people see first.  Their loss I suppose if they don’t stick around.

General aesthetic:   Bargain basement couch?  Honestly I don’t dwell much on my appearance because at some point I just went, “…why?”  Finding sexy affordable vegan clothes/makeup that I like and that look good on me and are comfortable is way more effort than I want to expend most of the time.  I don’t owe anyone beauty. But mostly I wear jeans (elastic waist because of my nickel allergy, so, mega sexy there), black tops as long as I can find them, and in winter a variety of cardigan and sweater things. I usually wear black or brown boots but since I mucked up my back I’ve been sticking with my Ryka trainers. On a good day I look “together” and on a bad day I look “OH LAWD SHE COMIN’.”

Religious Thingie:  Paganesque.  I’ll go into this more soon.

Dietary Thing:   Ethical vegan.  

Food or other Allergies:   I’m allergic to nickel, penicillin, and cinnamon, so, I guess next up will be liniment, Phenergan, and and imminent militant Dominicans.

Other Health Concerns:  I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome stemming from the aforementioned gallbladder; an irregular heartbeat; pretty severe bipolar depression or whatever they’re calling bipolar II now; anxiety, insomnia, essential tremors in both hands, and contact dermatitis when exposed to nickel. Oh, and I have a bad back and a messed up right knee, each with its own story.

The author, age 41.

You are likely to find me:   In Starbucks, Epoch, or some other coffee place in Austin, with my Macbook and a pile of notebooks at hand, especially my bullet journal.

You may know me by:  The Shadow World Series of urban fantasy novels; my neoPagan nonfiction books The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition and The Body Sacred; my digital only urban fantasy series, the Agency; a few essays I wrote in the Vampire Diaries TV fandom back in the day; and my fan fiction adventures over on Archive of Our Own.

Other interesting things about me:  I am adopted, and yes I’m cool with that fact; I had two brothers growing up but one committed suicide in 2004; I do have a day job;  I live in Austin, TX with a roommate and 8 animal friends; and no, I do not have a publication date for SW book 8 just yet but YES it will absolutely happen regardless of whatever other projects I take on. Also, YES I am working on a new book that is not part of that series.

I have a lot of stuff to catch you up on, and things to share, but this’ll do for a beginning. It’s only February after all! I’m hoping to get into the habit of posting twice a week, so you’ll see me a lot more this year. Fingers crossed!

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Round and Round She Goes

Here we are, in the first month of another new year.  And since it’s been so long since my last post, this is usually the part where, as a typical blogger, I apologize for being gone so long and vow to post more often, et cetera.

You know what? I suck at blogging.  I used to be good at it back when I felt like I had unique or at least interesting things to say and I wasn’t weary of the internet’s insistence on showing its ass at every available opportunity.  I have psyched myself out of so many posts wondering what the consequences would be!  I’ve had just enough bad experiences that I ask myself, “Is what I have to say important enough or different enough to be worth the (metaphorical) balls shoved in my face for being a Woman With Opinions on the Internet?” and the answer always seems to be “God I’m tired.”

I don’t want to be like that – now more than ever speaking up, refusing to remain silent about what’s important (or even unimportant but fun, anything to shed a little light or spark a little laugh in this hellscape of a world we’ve stumbled headlong into), is vital – but I’m 41, jaded, depressed, and no longer so sure of my footing.  

2018 was terrible.  Let’s just get that out there.  I was in a shithole of a brainspace, my executive functioning was at an all time low, and my writing career dwindled to basically nothing.  To paraphrase Ray Bradbury, the only way you can truly fail as a writer is to quit writing, and I have come dangerously close to failure in the last year.  

I can’t be angry with myself; as I said, I’ve been in a shithole, and nearly got fired from my day job for absenteeism because there were so many days I just couldn’t get out of bed.  That’s what my mental illness tries to do to me.  It tells me I’m a failure, a lazy waste of carbon atoms, and then it tries to prove itself right.

My new-old desk and writing situation.

I’m doing a bit better right now, and feeling a bit more optimistic.  I’ve been writing naughty fan fiction again to try and, er, get the juices flowing, and I’m working through a goal-setting system called Powersheets that has helped me get a better look at my priorities – both where they have been and where I want them to go.  I have a snazzy new writing space in my bedroom that I’m so happy with I love spending time there (see photo), and I’ve gotten back into my magical and spiritual practices, which I have a LOT to say about, though at the moment I’m having a lull because I’ve had a back injury and getting down to my altar has been, well, kind of embarrassingly impossible, bringing to mind the episode of Planet Earth where the baby walruses try to get up on the polar ice and keep sliding off.

Since I couldn’t find footage of that, please enjoy this instead:

At any rate, this post is really just a “hello again” and an expression of hope that I’ll be around more this year – I can hardly be around less!  I’m trying to get past my reluctance and my hangups, so hopefully I’ll even have some pretty toothsome stuff to talk about.  For those still here, thanks for hanging with me.  If I’m not a failure, it’s because of all of you!  

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New Shadow World Extra: Reclamation

Happy Friday, my dear readers!  To celebrate the Autumnal Equinox (or maybe just because the impending Fall has me feeling frisky), I finally, FINALLY finished this Extra, which my Patrons got to read several days ago.  

This Extra is meant as a sort of sequel to the last one I released, and it’s a sort of “bridge fic” between Book 7 and Book 8, to get all the characters and the overall universe where I want it to start off the last book.  It’s meant to be similar in spirit to “Even in the Rain,” therefore, just from Miranda’s point of view and a bit more definitive in where things stand.


Reclamation  (pdf download)

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Musings on Shadow Work

DISCLAIMER: I am not a therapist or mental health practitioner of any kind. I can only speak to my own experience and results with any practice I discuss, and nothing I say should be taken as professional advice.  If you are experiencing a crisis please seek qualified professional help.

Recently I had a tarot reading from the lovely Jessi Huntenberg, specifically her “Witch Path” reading that is meant to help you progress in your magicospiritual unfolding.  I wanted to know why I didn’t seem able to actually establish a practice, and what was holding me back from actual connection to a higher power or my own mojo.

From card 1 I knew two things: 

  • 1 – Jessi Huntenberg is a steely-eyed missile woman (ten points if you get the reference) and
  • 2 – She was absolutely right that there were things from the past I needed to face and understand if I wanted to move forward. She suggested a round of shadow work, and I heartily agreed.

What is shadow work, you may ask? It sounds more arcane than it necessarily is. The whole concept arises from Jungian psychology – Jung believed that all the parts of ourselves we deny, behavior we are ashamed of, and events we can’t deal with make up our shadow, almost a hidden second self which influences every move we make, dogging our steps and making it impossible to be integrated, whole beings until we’ve faced it down.  The idea is not to destroy the shadow – quite the contrary, it’s to understand its origins and embrace it so that we can control its impulses rather than those impulses controlling us.  

As Kelly-Ann Maddox (another steely-eyed missile woman) says, shadow work does not give you an excuse to be a dick because “Hey man, it’s just my shadow, it’s part of me and I can’t change that.”  Much like learning about your natal chart, understanding your shadow gives you a place to work from – it is a catalyst, not an excuse.  You shine a light on parts of yourself long neglected and bring awareness to them, then use that knowledge to progress on your path as a human being.

There are many ways to go about shadow work.  My process thus far has consisted of a lot of journaling and meditation, and in only a few sessions it’s uncovered some pretty nasty shit that, if I’d tried to address it a few years ago, I would have gone into a self-hating tailspin or at least shoved it back in the box.  Now, however, the primary emotion to arise is relief.

Shadow work isn’t just saying “Damn, girl, you’ve done some shady shit.”  The point is to figure out WHY you have, and WHY you continue to make decisions that compromise your relationships and integrity.  This may require revisiting childhood events (even the tiniest thing can feed your shadow, though of course trauma is a key player), or at least looking back along your path and taking note of what was going on when you started making iffy decisions. For a lot of people obviously this is a process best undertaken with professional help.  I’m a Scorpio, however, and one thing we love is relentless self-analysis – finally a chance to use it for good instead of evil!

(Seriously, find a therapist or at least a trusted peer to speak to if you’re interested in shadow work but feel afraid or overwhelmed at the prospect.  Here there be dragons, and while you can probably tame them yourself, if you’re not used to cave-diving in your own psyche it can be hazardous.)

What I’ve found is that while I haven’t been able to trace a single origin point for the issue I wanted to examine, I’ve definitely found a current of belief that, while unhealthy, made sense as a coping mechanism in the context in which it arose.  I suddenly sat back and thought holy hell – I’m not a terrible person!  I’ve been doing a shitty thing for a long time because of some other shitty things, and that doesn’t make it less shitty but it DOES mean I am not doomed to keep doing it forever because I’m some sort of high-functioning sociopath (which isn’t really a thing anyway).   That means that I can act from a place of awareness and do better.  

Shadow work is, above all, meant to be liberating.  It helps you reclaim your authenticity and your psychological sovereignty – you don’t have to be held hostage by your own bullshit if you’re willing to drag your bullshit out into view and air it out.  It’s not easy, but then again, living chained to a fuck-ton of baggage you’re pretending doesn’t exist isn’t easy either.  As with much of adulthood it comes down to choosing which kind of pain you prefer.

If you’re interested in learning more about this sort of thing, here are a couple of introductions; each of these ladies has a YouTube playlist on the subject you can delve into as well.  I’ll undoubtedly have more to say about it as well.   

Do you do shadow work?  Have some resources to share?  Do so in comments here or on Facebook.

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Smallish Bloggery, Day 30: I will go down with this ‘ship

Sorry guys.  My last two days of Smallish Bloggery were interrupted – I was felled by a brief but intense bout of food poisoning that involved 102F fever and longing for the sweet embrace of death a bit more than wanting to blog.  

I am still feeling pretty horrid, to be honest, so instead of waxing bloggerific about ships I know and love, or any of that, I shall just refer  you to my work over on Archive of Our Own where you can read a bit more about a couple of my favorites, as long as you like a) boys getting it on and b) significantly adult-oriented material.

I’ll be back with a Day 31 wrap-up as soon as I feel able.  In the meantime, please enjoy some exceedingly gratuitous Johnlock and Frostshield:

suchaprettyface at Archive of Our Own 

(18+ only please, thank you)

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