Sunday, December 31, 2006

Yay for the Old, Yay for the New

I usually make an effort on this blog--and I hope it pays off--to stick with material that serves the reader at least as much as myself. But for this entry I'm going to be totally selfish and post some personal reflections on my life in 2006 and plans/hopes/dreams for 2007. And who knows, maybe it'll even be vaguely interesting to you too.

Coolest Stuff of 2006

The year started out with me excited about my upcoming book release, Soulful Sex Volume III, a dream that was quickly squashed by the news that my publisher was going out of business. Turned out, however, that it was the best thing that could have happened. Not only did I have a blast having full control of my publications (under my own publishing house, Living Beyond Reality Press, my sales income ended up more in 2006 than the previous two years combined.

I was invited by Romantic Times BOOKclub to speak on the erotica panel at their national convention in Orlando. This came on the heels of my participation in the magazine's big issue on erotic romance. It was quite a thrill to work with the number one publication in the romance fiction business.

Another big dream of mine was realized in May when I released Diana's Deck Romance Fortune Telling Cards, which I designed and illustrated. Obviously I get to work with words all the time, so it was awesome to get to work with pictures. I really love how the set turned out. It was really exciting when Non Sport Update featured the cards in their August/September issue.

2006 was a pretty good year for me too for awards. I was voted Featured Author of the Year 2005 by The Romance Studio Blue. In the 2005 Preditors & Editors poll I received two Top Ten Finishes: 6th place in Non Fiction Article for my essay "Man-Devil-Angel: The Perfect Erotic Partner" and an incredible 5th place (out of 266 entrants) in Best Author! In April I received a big surprise: "Je t'aime, Etienne" from Soulful Sex Volume II was a Finalist in the Best Story from an Anthology category in the 2005 RIO Awards of Excellence, presented by the Reviewers International Organization. Last but not least, my essay "The Successful Author, Revised" won first place in the 2006 Funds for Writers Annual Essay Contest.

One of my biggest thrills of 2006 was the great review I received from the infamous Mrs. Giggles for Soulful Sex Volumes I & II. It's no easy feat pleasing Mrs. G and I was very grateful (and relieved!).

I had planned of course on releasing more anthologies of "erotica with soul" in 2006, but made the last minute decision to write a non-fiction book about my experiences with self-publishing, titled Do-It-YourSelf-Publishing. The book got the attention of a lot of different websites and publications, and was featured by Funds for Writers, Mrs. Giggles, About Freelance Writing, Write and Publish Your Book, BookHitch, and TheNextBigWriter, among others. Best of all, it was endorsed by famed fantasy author and epublishing supporter Piers Anthony.

Meanwhile, the local Milwaukee media gave me some good press this year: An interview with me was the lead story in the entertainment section of, entitled "Tech-savvy Milwaukee author publishes her own books."

I met an awful lot of great people via the web in 2006 but must give special mention to The Lipstick Mystic, who has promoted my work on her website and newsletters, and featured me in a truly outstanding interview in December. But I can't even begin to list here all the cool new fans--both of my books and this blog--I encountered this year, many of whom I'm happy to consider new friends.

And outside of the romance writing biz, 2006 brought me such great events and discoveries as these:
  • My hero Guy Carbonneau becoming head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
  • Rereading The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Cody Willard
  • James McAvoy in "Children of Dune"
  • The return of Superman
  • "Lady in the Water" (yes, I loved it!) and "The Man Who Heard Voices" by Michael Bamberger
  • Les Stroud aka "Survivorman"
  • Adam and Jamie aka the MythBusters
  • My 50th birthday
  • "Tranji" and the "So You Think You Can Dance" gang
  • The Chicago Bears
  • Hiro and "Heroes"
  • "Battlestar Galactica"
  • Edward James Olmos (who deserves a separate bullet point of his own)
  • "The Office" (it just gets better and better)
  • Our new Sony Grand WEGA 50" 1080p Rear-Projection SXRD HDTV (I lurve it!)
  • The Pirates! adventure books by Gideon Defoe

Looking Forward to 2007's my "resolution" for next year, an idea brought up to me by my friend Jennie. It's this: "Keep It Fun."

When you're an ambitious person such as myself, it's easy to get caught up in projects to the point that they stop being fun. It's one thing to have to labor in your job, but in your hobbies and avocations a person needs to be sure not to lose sight of the point: to have fun. I'm 50 and lord willing will live another 50 years, but however long I have left, I want to enjoy it.

So I'm hoping to keep that in mind in 2007, and spend plenty of time with family and friends and doing enjoying the many blessings I am so fortunate to have. I'm sure I'll work hard anyway--I'm weird like that--but I'm hoping to have a little more fun as well.

Would that you all had such nice, happy resolutions for the New Year. Well, while you're working to lose weight, exercise more, or whatever tough and dreary challenges you're taking on in 2007, I hope you too will Keep It Fun. And I hope part of that will be plenty of visits to this blog!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday Dreams Diana Style

Why is Christmas time so romantic? Well, that’s a question for another day. But I thought I would indulge myself and envision my own personal perfect romantic fantasy Christmases. Here goes:

Christmas Fantasy #1: A Cozy Scottish Holiday with James McAvoy

James as Mr. Tumnus in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is just about the coziest thing in history. He wouldn’t necessarily have to be a faun to be cozy, just wear a wintry scarf and host a tea party in front of a hearth. Our celebration could certainly take place in a cottage in his native Scotland, and he would definitely need to speak in his natural Scottish brogue. Imagine curling up with him with a mug of mint tea with cream, gazing into the fire and listening to him tell of Christmases in Scotland. Ah, I’d be a happy lassie….

Christmas Fantasy #2: A Joint Heroes/Lost Party

Should we hold it on the island or in New York City? It wouldn’t really matter, with John Locke, Charlie, Sawyer, Peter, Hiro, Mohinder and Isaac all in the same place at the same time. Okay, you Jack fans, he wouldn’t be bad either. I think the most fun to have with this crowd would be if we all sat around with some leftover Oceanic Airlines booze and tried to figure out how the plot lines of the two shows might possibly be connected. Maybe the Dharma Corporation is behind the genetic manipulation that created the heroes? Maybe Hiro is distantly related to the guy in the hatch training film? Maybe John Locke is one of the heroes (that miraculous healing of the legs, ya know)? At any rate, we’d all have to drink another toast every 108 minutes. What a blast.

Christmas Fantasy #3: Christmas on the Canadian Shield with Les Stroud

I’m not envisioning spending the holiday with Survivorman in one of his usual inhospitable settings like the jungle or the desert. Nope, I’d rather have him show me the splendor of Canadian winter in his neighborhood in Ontario. Some sledding, some snowshoeing, and all that cold beauty…appreciated as only Les can. And of course, we’d end up in front of a fire warming our toes, with Les singing carols and playing guitar. You know, I have endless admiration for his wife Sue, who bravely supports her husband’s hazardous lifestyle, and I hope she wouldn’t mind my giving Les one Christmas kiss of thanks for all the joy he brought me this year.

Christmas Fantasy #4: An Office Christmas Party with “The Office” Crew

I’m not denying the best thing about hanging out with the Dunder-Mifflin crowd would be catching Jim Halpert under the mistletoe. But I’d love to spend time with the whole gang. I would shamelessly encourage Michael’s ridiculous sense of humor, talk “Battlestar Galactica” with Dwight, and become best pals with Pam. Then we could all head over to Chili’s for drinks and get really crazy. (I’d have my eyes on Jim the whole time in case he made one of his classic faces at the videographer.) And if Toby was all alone for the holiday, I’d be happy to keep him company.

Christmas Fantasy #5: Feliz Navidad with Edward James Olmos

EJO is the first person of Mexican heritage I’ve crushed on, so it’s been interesting for me to find a romantic element in that old Jose Feliciano song this year. It would be lovely to have a tour of Mexico at holiday time with Eddie, and knowing the kind of guy he is, I’m sure the experience would be more about the reality of Mexican culture and history than any margarita-sipping-at-a-Cabo-resort kind of thing. The man has one of the most loving hearts I’ve ever encountered, and he pretty much embodies the spirit of Christmas. I’d love to just sit with him and watch a Mexican sunset, and listen to him talk about the unity of the human race in that magnificently beautiful voice of his.

Christmas Fantasy #6: Home for the Holidays

Yep, I have to admit, my best fantasy of all for Christmas is the one that will really come true: Spending time with my own wonderful family. I must confess we know how to do Christmas up right, and I can’t wait for the annual fun to start. Although I’m sure David and the girls would be quite thrilled if all my fantasy friends were able to join us. (Yes Davie, Evangeline Lilly is invited too.)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Love is Blind

I think everyone has had the experience of “waking up” from an infatuation (or even from long term love) to suddenly realize the object of affection was nothing like you thought s/he was. You know, the “love is blind” phenomenon. It’s truly amazing how the psyche can sometimes so completely revise the person standing before your very eyes.

I have my own (Jungian-based) theories on this. I believe each person’s psyche feels lack, in other words, yearns for certain human qualities in order to achieve completion and wholeness. When you meet someone who has a few of these traits, particularly if that person is your type physically, he qualifies as “romantic material”: a person upon whom you can project the complete package of your ideal traits.

Once you have “fallen in love” with the man, it’s amazing how successfully your unconscious mind is at convincing you he has all these qualities. When he actually manages to exhibit them, you will exaggerate the situation; when he fails to do so, you may interpret it as a small thing or only temporary. Or instead, you may find yourself angry, sad, or deeply disappointed when he fails in this way. You may make determined and desperate attempts to change him.

It is only when you finally see and accept that the person doesn’t actually possess the traits you hoped for that you reach the realistic crossroads. At that point, if there is enough about the individual to make the relationship worthwhile anyway, you will accept his “shortcomings” and love him for who he really is. If there isn’t, if you have been deluding yourself too much about him, you will fall out of love.

That’s the simple version, in a nutshell, but of course it plays out in all kinds of involved, complicated, and unique ways in real life. Just for fun and edification, I’ll share an example from my own life.

I once met a guy I will call Romeo (not too many men named that nowadays, are there?), who was just the sort of independent puer archetype (that’s an “eternal boy”) that always attracts me. We thought enough alike that we could easily relate, and so were able to get into deep and interesting conversation on a regular basis and became quite close.

One thing I have always needed and have difficulty finding in men is strong will. I’m a very capable person but have a yearning for a good old-fashioned authority figure who will, if I may put it this way, push me around a little. I have always been an obliging, good girl type, so by contrast I found Romeo’s stubborn, volatile, uncompromising male nature the irresistible opposite of myself. His behavior was so deeply satisfying to my psyche, and so rare, that my unconscious glommed onto him and was desperately afraid to lose him.

Because my deep-seated psychological needs were met by Romeo, I was willing to pay quite a price for it. I inflated the worth of the other qualities in him that I liked, and deflated the importance of his difficult traits. And while the relationship brought me truly blissful levels of happiness at times, it also brought some of the most acute grief I’ve experienced.

Another interesting phenomenon occurred with Romeo. He wasn’t exactly my favorite type physically, but due to the way he touched my soul, his sexual appeal to me was greatly enhanced. I remember one time having a discussion with some other females about who in the world we would most want to make love to, including celebrities. It took me but a moment to recognize that in my mind, sex with this guy would transcend anything I might experience with someone like Hugh Jackman. Yes, I knew how crazy this was, but it was absolutely true.

Eventually, of course, I woke up from my delusions about Romeo. I did my best to see him for who he was and have a reality-based friendship with him, and eventually succeeded. Meanwhile, he met someone else, and as is the nature of relationships, adapted to being with her. In the process his personality changed to the point that he no longer possesses the very traits that initially drew me to him.

Consequently, I find it hard now to sort out which qualities Romeo actually abandoned in himself, and which he never possessed in the first place and were just figments of my imagination. Naturally, either way I’m confident he has become much less admirable a person, although I’m sure his significant other would beg to differ with me. LOL

And to this day, when I go somewhere that we went together, or hear a certain song, I really miss the guy, whether or not that person ever truly existed. And naturally, I would. Love is blind, and to mix metaphors, like an elephant, love never forgets. And woe to me if I ever meet someone who truly reminds me of the man I thought Romeo was. That will be a scary--but very thrilling--day.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Be Devilish...But Then Stop

In my opinion, the average woman has an interesting way of reacting to male aggression. I’m sure men find it quite confusing. I think it may just be that we females are a bit at cross purposes when it comes to sex.

On the one hand, our primordial brain responds powerfully to male aggression. The macho, forceful, studly guy turns us on in spite of any rational thinking. He can be pushy, demanding, even threatening, and in response we feel the seductive urge to submit.

But on the other hand, women are also rational creatures. As such, we respond to kindness, protectiveness, and sensitivity, very opposite traits to those listed above. Logic tells us a macho guy will probably not prove the best mate in the long run.

But the problem is, you really want to have sex with him in the short run. What’s a girl to do?

Once again, fantasy life comes to the rescue. In our imaginations, we get to have it both ways: We can be assaulted, even violently, by the macho man and enjoy the deep-seated thrill it give our primordial brain. (I know it’s not PC to mention rape fantasies, but honestly, most of us have had them, after a fashion and of course very different from real rape.) But then the fellow can be transformed--by circumstance, revelation, or best of all, our love--into that gentleman a woman could spend her life with.

Have you read a few books like that?

Yes, some of us do want both Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes. And only in fantasy are you going to get them both in one man, unless you find a nice one who will play at being nasty for fun. Would that more men had that act mastered. Which brings me to my anecdote.

Yes, naturally I have an anecdote to share that inspired this whole line of thinking. As you know, I’ve been fixated lately on Edward James Olmos, aka Admiral Adama from “Battlestar Galactica.” You don’t have to be a fan of the show to follow this, so stick with me here. In this role he plays a firm and determined but very kind and honorable man. Meanwhile, in real life EJO is a wonderful guy who gives profusely of his time and money in a number of humanitarian causes, particularly related to U.S. Hispanics and their culture. In short: good guy, very kind hearted, gentle, and protective.

Meanwhile however, Mr. Almos has played a number of really rough roles in theater, TV and film. Last night I watched him reprise his role from Broadway in the film version of the musical “Zoot Suit.” As El Pachuco, he is a fantasy figure (an element of the protagonist’s psyche, actually) that utterly embodies macho. He sambas seductively, sings in that velvet voice of his, and oozes sex from every pore. He lurks, he skulks, he advises violence and makes cynical pronouncements about life. He’s hostile, cruel, dangerous, cynical, sinister, fearless.

He’s not my type at all and he absolutely sends me.

This is the kind of character you picture bending you over a table and saying, “I will take you right here, chica, and you will like it,” and you completely agree with him.

If I were really in L.A. in 1940 in a bar with a bunch of Pachucos, I would say in abject terror, “Easy, carnal, I would rather just leave if you promise to leave your switchblade in your pocket.”

But you see, I know the actor, and I know he’s just performing, and that underneath that black zoot suit and intensely red shirt lies a heart of gold. I’ll play the game with this particular fellow, because I know he’ll be devilish and then stop. I’ll let him hike up my silky red skirt and do his worst to me, and it’s fantasy so it will be like a tango.

What in real life would be a nightmare, in dreams is a delight. Isn’t that often the way it is? But often those kind of dreams are the most powerful of all.

Now we just need more men like Edward James Olmos, who can play the devil but live like an angel....