“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”
~~Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

Hi all,

Big thanks to Kim for stepping in and writing the bulk of this newsletter while I was doing a lil convalescing.  No worries.  Fine now!  I greatly appreciated the break and look forward to being fully back in two weeks.

God bless,

An Interview with a Dyeland Writer

1.  What made you decide to start writing Dyeland-related stories?

I wasn't around when Dyeland got started, so I had a lot of catching up to do when I discovered it a few years ago. I loved what I read, and I couldn't help wishing the community was really real. When Jenni told me that some people had written stuff for their own characters back in the day, I wanted to get involved. So I proposed the idea of the Kemara character and Jenni incorporated her into "Ivy."

2.  What's the most difficult part of stepping into a fictional "universe" that's already been evolving for several years?

I'd say having to learn "the rules". I did a lot of reading to get caught up when I found Dyeland, not just the stories, but the newsletters, too. And I'm sure I asked Jenni a ton of questions about the characters and background. Actually, I still do!

3.  Do you have a favorite among the characters you've created?

Obviously, Kemara is close to my heart as she is very similar to myself in a lot of ways. But Sean is my favorite. My current story focuses on him, and I'm enjoying the challenge of writing about a guy in his mid-30s who's a husband and father. I have to think about what his perspective might be compared to that of a woman. Plus, his personality is much more outgoing than Kemara's.

4.  Of the characters you did NOT create, which is the easiest for you to write for?

Probably Owen, and I'm not really sure why. I guess because he seems like he'd be a good friend to hang out with. Kemara tells him about her uncertainties before her first date with Sean because she knows Owen can be trusted not to scoff.

5.  And the most difficult?

Oohh....I'm supposed to say Joshua, right? I think it's the more minor characters like Emma, Kylie and Peter. And that's just because I don't have as much experience writing them, so I'm not sure I'm portraying them correctly.

6.  You've also written TBAA fanfic. What's the biggest difference, for you, in writing straight TBAA fic versus Dyeland fic?

The TBAA characters aren't the same as the Dyeland ones, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. It's not just that the Dyeland characters have had more experiences since the show ended. Things that happened on the show might or might not have happened to the Dyeland characters. For example, Monica's encounter with Satan and meeting with Arthur happened one w
ay on the show and another way within the Dyeland universe.

7. What is your favorite Dyeland story that you've written?

Kemara and Sean's wedding, the planning and execution of which takes place over a few stories, was the most fun for me. I did so much research on Catholic wedding customs - choosing the readings and prayers and the participants, finding Kemara's dress, choosing jewelry and decorations that would have meaning to the characters. I even created a Pinterest board to keep it all straight.

8.  Do you have a particular writing ritual?  Like a certain drink you sip on, a treat you indulge in, music you listen to, etc.?

Not really. It might help if I did! I'm a notorious procrastinator. I have to be "in the mood" to write, and if I'm not, it's like pulling teeth to get one sentence down.

9.  What words of advice would you give to someone who wants to try creative writing?

You always hear "write what you know", but I think the better advice is, "write about what you think is interesting." Before Dyeland I never thought I'd find myself researching child development, twins, Down syndrome, the staging of "The Secret Garden" or how firefighters train. But it's been a fascinating ride, and I can't wait to see what else we add to these stories.

10.  And what advice do you have for writing Dyeland fic in particular?

Don't be afraid to join in! Ask Jenni for a copy of the guidelines that she created a while back. Following them will help you immensely. Read as much of the old stuff as you can so you get an idea of the world. Ask questions. About once a week I'll ask Jenni, "How do you think so-and-so would respond if Kemara asked this?" or "Can you read this bit and see if it sounds right?"

11.  Anything else you'd like to share?

I want to thank everyone who's glanced at my stories. If you like them, let me know!

Dyeland Stories: A Web Site Tutorial

So it used to be that, about every year, I'd give a little tutorial on the web site and where to find things.  However, it's been over two years since I have and now the web site's pretty huge.  So I'll just do it in bits and pieces as it fits in.  Since Kim's interview was about the Dyeland stories, it made sense to focus in on that section of the web site.  So here goes!

First, if you start at the index page which is www.onthisside.net, click the bucket to enter and then scroll down to the Dyeland Stories button.  The page is divided into two sections: Stories and References.  First in the Stories section, you'll find the
The Author's Cut.  Here's where you can find all the non-newsletter stories as well as some commentaries I wrote on earlier stories.  Next up is the JABB Story Index which lists *every* Dyeland/JABB story.  There's color coding to tell you whether a story is "canonical" or not.  It's also searchable so if, after reading the interview, you want to check out Kim's stories, simply Find her name using your browser and scroll through.  Last is the Friends of Joshua Forum which is currently on hiatus but will return when I finish the trafficking story.  It's a message board where assorted Dyeland characters weigh in on various issues and offer their views of things they experience in the stories. 

The second and longer section is References.  The
Dyeland Map is exactly what it sounds like!  The Dyeland Timeline gives a run down of major events in Dyeland's history and life events in the characters' lives.  The JABB Encyclopedia is a tool I use a lot when writing.  It's a catalog of references to a given topic in all newsletters and stories.  So, for example, if I want to know what stories reference Monica, I can go there, search *Monica, go to her entry, and get what I need.  Cultural References is just something I started for fun but it can also be useful in finding a story that you read and want to visit again but can't remember which one it was.  If you remember that "Tender Shepherd" was sung in the story, you can go to Cultural References, search for it, and then it'll narrow your search down by listing only those stories that feature the song.  Characters' Birth Dates & More List is purely a list of dates of birth, death, and anniversaries of the characters.  I mostly use it so as to correctly cite characters' age in stories.  The Biblical Era Characters list is useful in keeping track of how Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and more are referred to in the stories.  It's handy because the Dyeland stories tend to use the Aramaic versions of the names.  Next up are Family Trees for some of the characters.  The Dyeland FAQ hasn't been updated in a good, long time and it's on my list to get around to eventually.  If you have a question that you'd like addressed, let me know and I'll add it.  Thanks!  The Dyelander Info Database is also in need of some updating!  Basically it's trivia about Andrew, JenniAnn, Vincent, and more. 

The next three links very much go with the Dyeland Map.  First, there's the
Official Flowers of Dyeland.  Back in the day, I was really into the Language of Flowers and so every city in Dyeland was assigned a flower or tree that had significance for its purpose or those who reside there.  Next up is Laws of Dyeland which is really just archival.  I assume Dyeland has laws but they haven't been referenced in a good, long while and this isn't super high on my priority list.  Meanings Behind the Names explains where the names of assorted Dyeland locales comes from.

Last of all comes
Guidelines for Writing Dyeland Stories which Kim referenced above.  If you have any questions about that piece, or any of this, please let me know.  Thanks!

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for helping to bring to life the stories of TBAA which, in turn, inspired so many stories here!

JABB Portal
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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.)