“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,
‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” ~~Fred Rogers

Hi all,

Welcome to the first JABB of 2021!

I wish I was sending this under better circumstances but, as I'm sure you're all aware, this has been a rough, emotional week.  Between the rising COVID numbers and an attempted insurrection... I'm just not feeling very creative.  And, on top of that, I had to switch to a new computer which is quite the process (on-going) AND my mouse situation is not 100% solved... maybe 90% solved.  Also, I'm still working on the Christmas story... well after Christmas... since all those distractions complicated getting it finished.

Happily, I am on vacation this coming week and while I'll likely spend most of it doing clean-up around my house, I hope it'll give me time to get caught up and maybe a little bit ahead with JABB.

But for right now... you basically get me interviewing myself although it is based on conversations I've had with other folks, most recently with Sierra re: portals which I'll get into.

I truly hope that in the midst of all this chaos, you're all stay healthy and sane.

God bless,

Random Q and A with Jenni and Jenni

Question: So how do the portals work in Dyeland?

Answer: It depends on the portal.  I went into a little bit of detail in JABB 434... but just barely.  There are a few types of portals.

The first type of portal is what I'll call a single-destination portal.  It will only go to one place.  An example of these are the portal entrances in the Tunnels, Mick's and Beth's home, and in JenniAnn's parents' home.  If you go through those, you're going to come through Dyeland's gazebo.  You couldn't, say, step through the portal in the Tunnels and wind up in St. G's.  You'd first have to select the second location in Dyeland's gazebo.  Which brings me to...

The multiple-destination portals.  The Dyeland gazebo is the most common one.  Once there, one uses a key/token and selects a symbol which represents where they want to go: the Tunnels, Albany, Los Angeles, El-Chanan, Omaha, etc.  More limited but still technically multi-destination portals are at St. G's and in the Romano's family farm in Albany.  From St. G's, one could choose to go either to Dyeland or Albany.  From Albany, one could go to the theatre or to Dyeland.

Finally, there are the vehicle-friendly portals.  These are the ones the Friends' use when they're in vehicles (naturally).  There's one in an alley in NYC, another somewhere in Omaha, and, one would presume, others in the other Sibling Cities.  How exactly these works... well, I've never really delved into that.  In the case of the alley, the vehicle just goes right on through when it makes contact with a brick wall.  But, of course, that begs the question of why others aren't just happening upon these portals and, inadvertently, ending up in Dyeland.  I would assume that God is somehow preventing that from happening.

In the end, God is in control of all the portals.  So, if it's His will, someone could happen upon a portal or simply get whisked into Dyeland even if they're no where near a portal.

Question: So while people pretty much remained in their own cities during COVID, you eventually had the households in Dyeland and the Tunnels mixing freely.  How did you make that decision?

Answer: I've been pretty much on lockdown myself since COVID started.  I go into my office briefly every two weeks to help cover some essential functions there.  Otherwise, it's just been a couple vet visits for my dogs and less than half a dozen runs to the grocery store.  So, yeah, it was kind of weird for me to be writing about characters going to and from each other's houses.  But...  I also think that could have maybe worked in the real world if there'd been swift, drastic action back in March.  Because Dyeland and the Tunnels went into total lockdown for several weeks at the start of the pandemic and, even after, were very firm in only allowing a very few people to come and go for very specific reasons, it made sense to me that they could have remained COVID-free this entire time.  Also, frankly, it's hard enough dealing with real isolation.  There was a point at which dealing with it in the fictional world was just making things worse for me.  Maybe I can't spend time with my aunts and uncles and cousins... but I wasn't also going to have JenniAnn spend a year separated from Vincent.

Question: Do you think you'll ever write another story in the vein of "Ivy" or "We Trust to Thee" where it's more about an assignment than goings on with the Friends?

Answer: I really, really hope so.  I enjoy writing the stories that stick to more of the TBAA formula.  In fact, for a long time, I've wanted to write a story where Andrew is assigned to a couple struggling in their marriage.  And God sends JenniAnn along so the wife can have a confidante in her.  But... that's obviously not going to work until we can all safely move about without risk of COVID.  But I'd just really like to explore Andrew maybe feeling some tension when his two worlds collide at a time when he and JenniAnn have gotten considerably closer than they were in "Ivy." 

And, frankly, that's about all that my very poor concentration can manage for right now.  I truly hope things only go up from here!  I'm going to try very hard to finish the Christmas story this week... although it's looking unlikely that I'll get any more written today.  Take care of yourselves, everyone!

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for touching so many lives and inspiring us to never give up hope because God is always there.

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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.)