“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
~~William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

Hi all,

Well, this is typically when I'd send the Valentine's story/stories but I only ended up with one vignette which has left me wondering if sizable sections of it should have the "kill your darlings" rule applied.  So I'm going to take another week or two to figure that out.  Meanwhile, my literal darlings... aka the dogs... are being very whiny and disagreeable today so it's been hard to focus.  What time I have had this morning has been spent on getting material from "The Messiah" onto the Timeline and Encyclopedia.  So... I decided that since I'm not sending stories about love today, I could at least share what I love about writing the Dyeland stories.  So that's what I'm gonna do and then just mix in some miscellany.

To those who will be celebrating this Friday: happy Valentine's Day!  And to everyone, just a reminder that God loves you!

God bless,

Top Ten Things I Love About Writing Dyeland Stories

10.  Keeping alive characters I came to love is definitely one of the main reasons I continue to write these stories.  If not for Andrew, Monica, Tess, Vincent, Catherine, Mick, Beth, and Josef, I probably would have just started writing stand-alone stories to amuse myself with.  But when those characters' respective shows ended, I wasn't ready to let them go and, thus, Dyeland stories became how I kept them alive and active. 

9.  In a world where so much changes, it's nice to have Dyeland as a constant.  Since I started writing these stories, I've attended multiple schools, held various jobs, moved into my own house, had friendships change, lost loved ones, gained new family members, mourned pets, adopted pets, etc.  While I try not to use writing as a means to hide away from those realities, it is nice to have this whole other world where I can safely grapple with things and know that said world is basically the same as it was the last time I visited it.

8.  I feel like writing these stories has made me more empathetic.  The characters find themselves in situations that are very much unlike any I have in my life.  For example, it's really easy to judge a guy who suddenly finds himself with a long-lost son who was the result of a fling.  As a woman, there's no way I could ever unknowingly have a child.  And I don't do flings.  But when I wrote "A Stór Mo Chroi," I had to consider how all that might happen, how it would feel to be Arthur dealing with embarassment and heartache, what the ripple effect would be, etc.  I guess the short way of saying this would be that writing has enabled me to see a lot more gray where I once saw black and white.

7.  To be honest, it's probably kept JABB from folding completely.  In the next segment, I'll write some stuff that hearkens back to TBAA.  But there's just not enough of that to have kept this all going for nearly twenty years after TBAA's last episode.  Something new had to come about.  In an ideal world, the Dyeland stories would just be a portion of the newsletter content with the rest being jokes or commentary about some TBAA spin-off or reboot series or a new project of John Dye's.  But we know the latter can't happen and, at this point, I'm pretty ambivalent about the former.  But the stories remain.

6.  Research for the stories gives me the opportunity to learn new things.  Now, I haven't had a huge research-based story since way back when I wrote "For Thou Art With Me" and read the court transcripts from the Salem witch trials and related books (although, now that I think about it, "Chava" involved a lot of research, too).  But almost every story these days involves some manner of research whether it be more specific things like what foods are halal or the latest treatments for TBI to taking a broader look at issues like clerical abuse and hate crimes. 

5.  The research I do for the stories sometimes scratches the itch I was left with after graduating from formal religious education.  It also helps me engage with Scripture in ways I might otherwise not.  We can all read the Bible and consider what a particular parable says to us and how we might apply it to our own lives.  But writing helps me get out of my own head and consider what comfort the parable of the workers, for example, might bring to a caregiver who frets about the salvation of a patient. 

4.  Andrew.  Yes, I still have a crush on Andrew.  And even though the Andrew in the Dyeland stories isn't exactly supposed to be the Andrew I found so enchanting on TBAA... he's definitely inspired by him and so my crush continues and the stories give me a good way to channel that into something that, hopefully, impacts others.  And it's just nice to feel swoony sometimes.

3.  I've made some great friends because of these stories!  And, yes, I've made great friends largely because of TBAA and John Dye.  But I've had many deep, thoughtful conversations mainly about the stories that have deepened those friendships.  Love that!  I also love when those friends write stories.  It's nice to be surprised for once!

2.  Joshua.  I mean, sure, every so often I wish I'd more directly taken after Fr. Joseph Girzone and written Joshua stories that stood apart from any existing property.  But there's just something so exciting and moving about thinking about Jesus ministering to, say, vampires or spending time with a future angel of death as His own death approached.  I believe that writing about such scenarios, outlandish as they may be, helps me connect with the reality of Joshua in new ways.

1.  Reminding people that God loves them is, I believe, the greatest legacy that TBAA left behind.  It feels good to take inspiration from the show and find creative ways to continue to spread that all-important message. 

Ask the Angel of Angels: The "Did That Really Happen?" Edition

Dear Angel of Angels,

I recently rewatched "Clipped Wings" and while I understand that it was part of the then-common practice of TV writers and producers putting together a clip show for an easy episode during a non-sweeps month... it still feels weird to me.  I mean I liked the concept of Monica's friend-turned-nemesis trying to derail her review.  What I didn't like was Ruth seeming ready to allow that to happen.  Would God really entrust an unfeeling bureacrat with so much power?  And why would He need another angel to do a review, anyway?  If God is limitless, why couldn't He do it Himself?

Monica Was Framed

Dear Framed,

God has use for everybody... including bureaucrats.  But you are correct that no actual assessment of an angel would play out like what you saw in that episode.  Firstly, the direct supervisor of the angel would conduct the review.  God would be there, of course.  He's always present.  But a review is a good way for a supervisor and trainee to connect and God loves to see relationships grow.  A third party, in this case Ruth, could be involved if their presence was helpful to the angel, supervisor, or even the third party.  That God would use the review of one angel to heal another angel is very much in keeping with how He works.  But in the episode, there was an element that you would never see in an actual angelic review.  Monica wouldn't have been made to feel that she was in danger of demotion or expulsion.  That's just cruel.  But it makes for good TV, I suppose.

The Angel of Angels


Dear Angel of Angels,

Do you really sound like Darth Vader?

A Star Wars Fan

Dear Fan,


I sound like King Jaffe Joffer.

But may the Force (meaning God) be with you.

The Angel of Angels


Dear Angel of Angels,

So I was watching "The Journalist"... again.  I just get all the feelings when Andrew's praying on those stairs...  But before that, I'm always horrified when Andrew flees the newsroom in tears and Monica just... stands there.  Like... is that for real?!

Need to Know

Dear Need to Know,

Except for God, none of us are perfect.  It's true that Monica didn't follow Andrew out of the newsroom.  But it's also true that, at points during his life, Andrew has given the impression that he likes to deal with his feelings alone.  We can all point fingers at Monica but none of us were there.  It's also important to remember that she'd only known Andrew for about a year at that time.  She was also relatively inexperienced as an angel.  I'm sure that, if she could go back in time, Monica would have comforted Andrew.  I think it's much more important to focus on their relationship right now.  They're good friends and God is very proud of them.

Be at peace!

The Angel of Angels

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for creating such a lovable character in Andrew!

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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.)