"There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch."
-- Robert Brault

Hi all,

I hope you have a happy Halloween next weekend!  If you see Andrew, be sure to give him a hug!  ;-)

God bless,

Spooky Sources for Dyeland Stories

I'm certainly not the most avid horror genre watcher/reader.  However, there are a few scary/eerie movies, books, etc. that I enjoy and sometimes those influences sneak into what I write.  Now seemed like a good time to reveal the creepy talents behind some Dyeland plot elements!

The Green Mile by Stephen King- While I wouldn't classify it as horror, The Green Mile is definitely supernatural and, at points, scary.  It also happens to be one of my favorite books and movies.  Unsurprisingly, its influence on JABB is multi-faceted.  First, Ivy's prayer in the story named for her is the same prayer John Coffey prays in TGM.  Second, Joshua's ability to make people viscerally experience other's memories when he touches them was directly inspired by Coffey.  Finally, when I need to put myself in the mindset of what Andrew would experience after a brutal assignment, I will sometimes think about how I felt when I learned what Wild Bill had done.  ::shudders::

"20th Century Ghost" by Joe Hill- I read the entirety of his 20th Century Ghosts and, trust me, there's some dark, dark stuff in there.  But it's the tender title story that stuck with me the most.  It's a ghost story set in a movie theater and while I loved the characters, it was the importance of the theater itself that stuck with me the most.  I cry every time I read it and whenever I need to summon some love for St. Genesius' Community Theatre, "20th Century Ghost" is there. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker- So when I started to really pursue the relationship between Andrew and JenniAnn with some seriousness, I decided I wanted them to have a psychic gift of some sort.  However, I didn't want it to be a copy of what Catherine and Vincent had (which would be horrifying, anyway, with Andrew's AOD work).  I happened to be reading Dracula at the time and was struck by Mina's ability to sense Dracula's whereabouts when she was in a dream/trance state.  I could work with that!  I obviously took some liberties.  Whereas Mina's "gift" was used to slay Dracula, Andrew and JenniAnn have thus far used theirs to reunite Vincent and Cora, comfort each other during the Afghanistan assignment, and save Belle.

Hellboy 2- So I only watched the first movie because Ron Perlman was in it.  But I ended up really enjoying both films.  I loved how the second movie opened with a flashback to one of Hellboy's childhood Christmases.  So I opened "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "The Past, the Present, the Future" with Vincent-centered Christmas flashbacks.  The next couple Christmas stories didn't open with flashbacks but the most recent two did and I plan to make it a tradition going forward.

Moonlight- Well, obviously it brought Mick, Beth, Josef, Logan, and Sarah into the Dyeland fold.  But in its all-too-brief lone season, it shook me up!  I feel really stupid admitting this but, up until that show, I'd never seriously considered all the issues two people would run up against when one's immortal (or very nearly so) and the other's not.  Without Mick and Beth, Andrew and JenniAnn would have been far less interesting and Andrew's decision to age probably wouldn't have been a plot idea that would have ever occurred to me.

Tanith Lee- Another one of my favorite books is her The Silver Metal Lover which, like Moonlight, forced me to take a realistic look at mortal/immortal entanglements.  What was unique is that, in the novel, it turns out the "immortal" is more vulnerable than the characters realize.  It made me think about what JenniAnn would really believe about Andrew.  If asked, I'm sure she'd say "Well, he's immortal.  He can't die!" but when the going gets rough... would she continue to believe that?  God isn't supposed to die, either, and yet...  Thus, some of JenniAnn's breakdowns over Andrew can be directly traced to that book.  While it's science fiction, Silver is also a romantic book and I really think it played a big part in developing how I would write romantic scenes (focus on the emotions, not the acts).  Finally, it's got a Romeo and Juliet homage running through it which, in turn, inspired the R and J elements in "The Scientist."  I also sometimes draw on Lee's short story "Red as Blood" which features a cameo by Snow White's Prince who, in that version, you may recognize as none other than the Prince of Peace, white horse and lion/lamb crest and all!  When I need to represent Joshua in a more regal mode, I think of that story.  Plus, that scene flicks through my mind whenever Joshua does something chivalrous. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- I debated whether or not to include this.  It certainly has its eerie moments!  Those aren't, however, what I tend to reference in Dyeland stories.  Nonetheless, it was the big mystery that kept me reading this in high school and, thus, exposed me to some wonderful quotes that would later work their way into various Dyeland stories, "Hope and Healing" most recently.

"Moonlight" by Stevie Nicks- Yeah, so apparently it's about vampires.  But, like Ivy, my mind went more towards Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  Unlike popular lore, I believe Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute but, instead, was mentally ill and cured by Jesus.  While I accept that some of the demons in the Gospels were literal demons, I also think some were just their way of explaining illness.  Thus, I believe Mary's 7 demons were more likely to be PTSD, depression, anxiety, and so on as opposed to Screwtape and Co.  That's why these lyrics make me think of her: "
She’s lonely, lost.  She’s disconnected.  She finds no comfort in her surroundings.  Beautiful, insecure, she has nothing.  She moves from situation to situation like a ghost.  Then she sees him: a candle burning."  I hope to share Mary's and Yeshua's story soon (trafficking story, perhaps) and when I do, you can bet that song will be running through my head.


So my sister really wanted to see Crimson Peak and I'm up for period pieces.  Not so crazy about horror movies, though...  Nonetheless, I went earlier today.  I can't say I was majorly scared.  Although I did turn away for the gorier parts!  I more just found it sad.  Gothic romances are nice things to visit to get that spine-tingling, skin-crawling feeling around Halloweentime but, inevitably, they just make me want to indulge in romance more to my own liking.  So that's what I'm going to do now!  If you plan to see Crimson Peak, don't read this until you have.  Spoilers ahead!

A Midnight Snack

October 26th, 2015

Andrew wasn't quite sure what had awakened him but he didn't entirely mind the interrupted sleep.  It allowed him time to appreciate the hush and warmth of Willowveil at nighttime.  He smiled as he listened to the steady breathing coming from Belle's baby monitor and envisioned his little elf and her big sister peacefully dreaming.  The occasional tapping noise told him that Harvey was also up and enjoying a late night sip of water.  And then there was JenniAnn.

Careful not to rouse her, Andrew shifted just enough to see her moonlit face which was half hidden by her hair.  He hoped she was having pleasant dreams although he had doubts.  The Thursday before, her cousin Veronica had called and asked her to see the movie Crimson Peak with her.  JenniAnn hadn't been crazy about the idea but when Veronica had played the "You hardly ever have time for me anymore!" card, she'd consented.  After all, Veronica was going through a tough divorce and if watching Charlie Hunnam battle ghosts was going to make her feel better then, of course, JenniAnn would go.  Her commitment to Camelot at St. Genesius' had enabled her to put the movie off for a few days but with no shows on Mondays and her classes ending before lunchtime, her opportunities to stall had run out that afternoon.

Andrew frowned as he remembered how quiet JenniAnn had been when he'd picked her up at her parents' after the film.  Once they'd gotten back to Willowveil, Belle's energetic chirpiness had cheered her mother.  Still...  While Andrew certainly didn't mind how affectionate his Laja had been that evening... more even than usual... he had to wonder at the cause.   Had she simply been in a cuddly mood or was it the after-effects of watching a romance gone horribly awry?

As he pondered this, the angel of death felt his T-shirt tighten around his middle.  Looking down, he noticed that JenniAnn had a death grip on the fabric.



The woman shifted so she could rest her ear over his heart.

Andrew remained silent for a few moments as she listened.  Once she let out a deep breath, he spoke.


JenniAnn sat up and nodded.

"About the movie?"

JenniAnn nodded again before snuggling against the angel.  Finally, she spoke.

"Maybe not even so much the movie itself.  Or maybe just kinda.  Just the whole 'Bluebeard' theme... and the fact that it is a theme.  The ghosts were gross in the movie but it was the here and now evil that got to me.  And maybe it didn't help that I related a bit to the main character.  She even looked a bit like me when I was younger.  Prettier but..."

Andrew wrapped his arms around her.

"You were pretty when you were younger and you're pretty now.  Or 'pitty' if you prefer."

JenniAnn smiled and brought his hand to her lips.

"Thank you for that.  So there was some physical resemblance and then also her wanting so badly to be a writer... not that I write much anymore but..."

"You write, Laja.  All those notes in Belle's baby book and the ones to Max when we gave him his Kindle and you write down the stories from Joshua, Maryam, Yosef, and John."

"That's mostly just transcribing, my love."

"You sell yourself so short, Laja!" Andrew protested.  "I've read the reflections you write for the Tunnel kids.  That's all you."

"Okay...  Well, anyway, the heroine was strong and smart and coulda been self-sufficient but still she fell for this guy who didn't have her best interests at heart a-and allowed her to be hurt.  Veronica was all about the sex scene and the action but I was just hung up on that.  I mean they had this lovely dance that they'd shared and I do think the main guy loved her but not enough."

"He could have at least fixed that roof so the poor girl wouldn't have been freezing!" Andrew grumbled.

"I know, right?  Buy a flipping tarp at the very...  Wait.  How did you know about the hole in the ceiling of their manor?"

Andrew's cheeks colored.

JenniAnn crossed her arms over her chest as she studied the angel.

"Where were you this afternoon?" she questioned.

"Well...  after you left to meet up with Veronica for lunch, I dropped Belle off with Vincent and then I, umm, went to go see Crimson Peak," he confessed.  "I was at the movie theater closer to your parents'.  My showing ended about fifteen minutes before yours did."

"Aww, love!  If you'd wanted to go, you shoulda just said something.  I didn't even think to ask because I know how you feel about that kinda stuff and so..."  JenniAnn's voice trailed off.

Andrew played with a corner of the sheet.  He smiled when JenniAnn nuzzled his shoulder.

"You went because you knew I'd get upset and you wanted to be able to talk about it with me," she murmured.

Andrew nodded and kissed her hair.

"I would never let you live in a house with a hole in the roof," he whispered into her ear.

JenniAnn caressed his face.

"I know, my love.  It's not entirely fair, though.  You saw the horror in my life... fictional as it is... so you could help me through but... but I never see the real horrors that you do.  A-and I think that's what makes this sorta stuff so hard now.  I... I always find myself wandering 'Has Andrew witnessed something like this?  How upset he must have been...'"

"You help me," the angel reassured before kissing her.  "So much, Laja.  Yes, I see terrible things sometimes but then I come back here and am surrounded by so much love.  And when I wake up from nightmares...  I no longer have to tell myself that it's only a few hours until morning and that I can go Home in the meantime.  No.  Because there you are: your hair tickling my chin, your head nestled against my shoulder, your hand over my heart.  You do help me," he reiterated.

JenniAnn buried her left hand in Andrew's hair and planted a kiss on his forehead.  She was just moving in for a kiss to his lips when the baby monitor came alive.

"Daddy...  Mama..."

JenniAnn smiled ruefully.


"I'll go get her," Andrew volunteered with a smirk.  Belle's timing was becoming impeccable.


"Belle, what's wrong?  Let Mama and Daddy sleep," Shelby's tired voice commanded.


"Let's go together," JenniAnn decided.

Hand in hand, Andrew and JenniAnn padded through the room and into the nursery.  When they entered, Shelby was trying to tuck Belle into bed but it was not going well.

"No eepy!"

"Belle...  It's bedtime."

"No!  No eepy!"

"It's okay, Shel.  We're here," Andrew announced.  He knelt beside Belle's little bed.  "What's wrong, baby girl?"

Belle grinned and kissed her father.

JenniAnn couldn't help but laugh as she knelt beside Andrew.  She soon received a kiss, too.

Shelby shook her head.

"I don't know what the deal is," she pondered.  "Belle doesn't seem upset or scared."

"Uhny," Belle blurted.

When the other three didn't catch on, the toddler lifted up her shirt and patted her belly.


Andrew chuckled.

"Ah ha...  So you got Mama and Daddy and your big sister out of bed because you're hungry?"

Belle nodded.

"Seems to me you had dinner and dessert, Belle," Andrew reminded.

"Uhny..." Belle repeated, adding a sniffle.

JenniAnn buried her face in Andrew's shoulder to hide her laughter.

Shelby openly snickered.

Andrew craned his neck to look at the clock on the wall.

"Well, it is almost midnight..."  The angel turned to confer with JenniAnn.  "I don't want to start something but... I could do with a midnight snack myself."

"Me too!" Shelby chirped.

JenniAnn smiled and shook her head.

"I don't see how we can avoid it now," she decided.  "All right, Belle, we'll go get a snack but we're not doing this every night.  Do you understand?"

"Ep!"  Belle gave an enthusiastic nod.

Though unsure if she really understood or simply thought a nod would get her a snack, Andrew scooped the little one up.

The four made their way to the kitchen where the adults made up a tray of crackers, cheese, peanut butter, and apple bits.  Once it was finished, they moved to the TV room.  While Belle and Shelby plopped on the floor, Andrew and JenniAnn sat together on the couch.

"Well, we don't have fiendish ghosts and murderous family members but I'd say we have one conniving toddler," Andrew quietly observed after enjoying a few crackers.

JenniAnn giggled.

"It's a good thing she's cute."

"Very cute," Andrew agreed as Belle sidled up to them.

When her father pulled her onto his lap, Belle gave the two sticky, sweet kisses.  A moment later, Shelby settled beside JenniAnn and hugged her arm.


"Hmm?" JenniAnn asked as she stroked the older girl's hair.

"I know you said we're not going to do this every night but... do you think we could do it again sometime?  This is really fun."

"They're ganging up on us, Laja!" Andrew teased.

Shelby grinned. 

"I suppose sometimes," JenniAnn agreed, smiling when Shelby hugged her.

When Andrew caught JenniAnn's gaze just before Belle flung her arms around his neck, he saw that her fear and unease had melted away.  Once the girls were through being affectionate and again focused on their snacks, JenniAnn hugged Andrew's arm tightly and peered into his eyes.

"I was interrupted before I could say what I wanted to earlier when we were in our room," she began.

"Oh?  And what was that?"

"Just that I will never let you live in a house without love," she vowed.

Andrew felt tears prick his eyes.  He encircled his arms around his soul mate and kissed her temple.

"Thank you."


The two smiled at each other and exchanged a quick kiss before returning their attention to their happy, laughing girls.

The End

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for making me so gosh darn schmaltzy.  Okay, okay.  So that wasn't totally his inadvertent doing... but partly.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)