“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
which is why we call it the present.” ~~Bill Keane

Hi all,

As I've mentioned before, I'm doing a massive clean-up around my house thanks to wild mice getting in.  While doing that, I found a series of notebooks that my cousins and I used to keep.  Every time we got together, we'd fill in what our favorite X was at the time.  So like favorite TV show, favorite food, etc.  It was fun to see what changed from year to year.  Anyway, I thought I'd do something like that with the Dyeland stories. 

However, one of my pet mice (Gussie) is doing poorly and while nursing her is quite easy physically (not like it takes much effort to move a mouse), it's been emotionally tiring.  So I've decided to break this into three short parts with the conclusion corresponding with JABB 600.  It seemed appropriate to be a bit retrospective as we near that milestone and it'll make things easier for me in the event I have to nurse poor little Gussie for a while and/or spend time acclimating her friend, Jackie, to life without her. 

Anyway, that's the plan.  Here goes...

God bless,

My Dyeland Favorites: Part I

All stories referenced can be found here.

Favorite Joshua revelation:

Well, I'm obviously very partial to the scene in "The Carpenter" when JenniAnn finds out who Joshua is.  I love the song "What Wondrous Love" which scores that scene.  And JenniAnn is, of course, very dear to me as my fictional namesake.  I also really loved that she and Joshua were actually testing the Crucifixion make-up when it happened.  I think it gave the scene a sort of ahistorical feel.  Like it happened outside of time, in a manner. 

But I also really love the non-revelation with Shane in the same story.  Or maybe it's a sort of reverse-revelation.  Just the idea that Shane totally knew who Joshua was but kept quiet because he thought that's what Joshua wanted... and then it's Joshua (thanks to his "live-feed" being down as part of his incarnation) who actually gets the surprise.  Even though he's not in the stories as much as I'd like, Shane is one of my favorites and I hope that I'll be able to write more about him soon.

Favorite musical moment:

I just mentioned the "What Wondrous Love" scene which is definitely up there.  But I think my very favorite might be Andrew and JenniAnn dancing to "Dark Waltz" in "Shadowlands."  It's just so visceral for me.  I can almost feel the night breeze and the shivers from both that and genuine fear when I read it.  I think that's because it's a scene that popped into my head fully formed.  I had to puzzle out the motivation for the scene itself.  But a nervous Andrew and JenniAnn dancing to this somber song underneath the moon was just there.

I also really like Kylie's performance of "Pilate's Dream."  It's always irked me that Jesus Christ Superstar doesn't have a woman singing that song because it really was Pilate's wife and not Pilate who had the dream about Jesus.  So it was cool to remedy that in my own small way.  But I also loved that Kylie was able to release some legitimate feelings during it.

Favorite wedding:

Definitely Graham's and Owen's.  I was actually pretty anxious about writing a gay wedding because I knew it might bother some people.  But, more than that, I was afraid I wouldn't do it well and end up sending the wrong message.  Because here's the truth... wedding scenes and really scenes with any sort of ceremony are my least favorites to write.  Because there's a pattern to them that gets kind of old.  But "The Messiah" presented a really unique opportunity.  Things are quiet heavy as Joshua gets shot and it's uncertain whether or not he'll recover.  And then there's this joyful event that, while very much about Graham and Owen, is entirely planned around Joshua.  I thought that was lovely.

Next to that, my favorite was a sort of non-wedding wedding.  In "Hope and Healing," we see the aftermath of Behnam's and Isra's arranged marriage which was pretty traumatic.  But we also get a glimpse of the night, six months later, that the couple actually celebrate every year with their anniversary.  On that night, now in love with her husband, Isra invites Behnam into her bed.  It's a big deal for them both but probably especially for Behnam whose entire adult life has been grief and guilt and feeling like he's failed the women in his life.  Finally, he gets to feel wanted and loved.

Favorite coincidence:

I think that's also in "The Messiah."  The character of Josef is from Moonlight and so, obviously, I didn't choose that name.  I did choose Nico's name but just because I thought it sounded cool and befitting a ship's captain.  I don't think Nicodemus even entered into my mind.  So it didn't even occur to me until I was writing "The Messiah" that I'd unwittingly ended up with a Josef and a Nico to stand-in for Joseph of Arimithea and Nicodemus.  They are also, coincidentally, among the wealthier characters which tracks.  It ended up being a red herring given Joshua didn't die.  But, for me, it added a layer of concern for the characters and they might have reasonably assumed that God had purposefully arranged for a new Joseph and Nicodemus to be present for his death and ready to act accordingly. 

That being said...  It's also kinda fun for me that JenniAnn is cousin to Catherine Chandler and Vincent Wells.  Those were names that came from Beauty and the Beast and yet, in real life, I'm related to Chandlers and Wellses.  So that's a real life coincidence that I'm pretty fond of.

On a more somber note, I felt like there were a lot of coincidences surrounding JABB and John Dye's death.  "To Be With You" was the last story I wrote before the news reached us.  And, looking back, it feels right that it ended with Andrew having this reassuring vision of the future.  In a way, it seems like a finale.  So it felt like an appropriate end to a specific era of JABB.  Further, the last newsletter before John Dye passed on was JABB 317.  317 is a significant number within the Dyeland stories as 3-17-00 is when Andrew came to Dyeland and, as such, he and JenniAnn celebrate it as one of their anniversaries.  So there was a full circle feeling to, again, ending an era on a number associated with origins.  Finally, as most of you probably know, every day I send a TBAA quote to the GoogleGroup (formerly YahooGroup).  On January 10, 2011, before the news reached any of us, this is the one I happened to send: "This life is a flicker.  It burns white hot for an instance and then it's gone.  But it sets the course for the eternity." ~~ Tess, The Homecoming, Part II 

That was a very sad time so it's hard to think of anything as a "favorite" that was connected to it.  But as time went by, those "coincidences" did make me feel like God was very near to us all then.  And the 317 did help me to feel like as hard as it was to leave John Dye in the past, there would be a new beginning.  And there was.  As I've written before, Joshua would not be a prominent character if not for the fact that in the first couple of years after John Dye died, it was difficult for me to write for Andrew.  Joshua was added to lift that burden some.  And then I just came to love writing about him.

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye whose depiction of Andrew still brings me comfort at difficult times.

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