Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Congratulations! it's a.... ?" Joy of Zentangle Book Review

This summer, I received a somewhat confused email from a customer/blog reader who asked me why they would buy my new book coming out in November, if they already owned all my other books? It sounded, to them, like a rehashing of my previous material.

My response, even more confused, was "Huh? What book?"

And so it was that I learned, that, yes indeed - I had a new book coming out in November. I kept agonizing over what to tell you all. And I kept arguing with my editor over... well, let's just leave it at "I argued a lot."

I hadn't been able to think of a good analogy - it's like being told you're pregnant, but not actually carrying a baby... not parthenogenesis, not adoption, not kidnapping, not... what? In my mind I have been thinking of this book as "FrankenJoy." Cut and splice and grab a brain from any jar not cracked or marked "Abby Normal" and WHOOPS - there it is!

It's Alive!
Since the book is actually shipping now... and since the publisher finally changed the cover to read something about Suzanne, Marie and I being "contributing" artists (rather than the actual "authors")... I realized that it no longer mattered how I might have felt about this child in the past, it was here now and it had my name, my (type)face, and tons of hereditary tangles. I need to get over it and welcome it into the family.

It feels strange to review my own book, but I think it may make me feel better. First a few things that make me go "Wha?"

I have fuzzy memories of creeping into a friend's parents' bedroom searching for who knows what. What we did accidentally discover was an... um... eye-opening book called "The Joy of Sex". I believe it was the 1970's edition.  Since then, it is impossible for me to finish the phrase 'The Joy of..." with any other word. Sorry if I just ruined it for you! Or perhaps, the opposite is true and I just made it more intriguing? :-)

The irony is that this book is the complete opposite - very white-bread and squeaky clean. The tangle pages each have a rapturous testimonial to how Zentangle has changed each person's life and why everyone should become a CZT. I also have to say that I don't agree with all of the introductory descriptions and explanations of "how" and "why" and "what". But that doesn't bother me as much anymore since it won't be assumed that I wrote it. And, honestly, I don't really read the big blocks of text in these kinds of books.

Any of you who have met me, read my books, or read my blog regularly know my writing style is a little loopy. I grew up in the Addams Family (I was Wednesday) surrounded by body parts in jars, spent my weekends in my mom's dissection laboratory... anyway, you all will be able to tell in an instant that this book was NOT written by me. OK?

Ok, I think I'm done critiquing (I tried to keep most of the whiney stuff in my head). YOU want to know WHY you might actually want to buy this book to add to your collection. I'll make a list:

• It's a nice looking book with lots of pages.
• It is THE perfect book for someone just getting started in Zentangle. Very clear and covers the philosophy and materials and all that.
• The tangles are taken from previous Design Originals books, but they are plentiful and each has it's own page.
• The extra space on each tangle page is not wasted - there are the testimonials, and even better, beautiful sample images (that don't actually relate to the tangle, but are still nice work). Many of the samples are new to you (not from the other books).
• There are samples of projects taken from the other books too - but they do NOT have the instructions. You'll need to get the individual books to learn those secrets.
• If you like to simplify - and you want a good sampling all organized in one place - this is a great book.

If you can, I say get all the books. Suzanne McNeill, Marie Browning, and I all have very different styles, advice, projects, experiences and humor. Our individual books convey all that. This book has cleaned us all up. It's "quirk-free".

I just ordered a whole bunch to take to the CZT retreat next week and I am very excited to welcome this new baby. I just don't know what to DO with it. Do I list it on my Etsy shop with it's siblings?  Amazon is selling it practically at wholesale already! Do I have a book launch party? That seems weird... Do I scan the horizon for townspeople with torches? Kidding. I hope. Perhaps I will just treat it like any other book that I have work in, but didn't write.

Speaking of which - I have a bunch of Zendalas in Suzanne McNeill's new book Zentangle 7: Inspiring Circles, Zendalas & Shapes. I hope you enjoy those - I especially love the black spinning one. Hee Hee. And I also have a trading card in Beckah Krahula's One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun (One A Day). I am really looking forward to this book! Beckah is quite a character and I'm curious to see how she integrates her own style into the whole process.

I want to hear what you all are thinking!


  1. I feel a little the way you do Sandy. I received a letter recently from Fox Chapel informing me that "Zentangle material" of mine, in a previous Design Originals book, is included in this new Joy of Zentangle. I haven't seen anything but the cover so it's nice to have your review!

    1. Yes - they used quite a few pieces from Totally Tangled that were done by other artists. Most of those people have progressed in their style and skills and I asked if we could get newer art from them. The publisher said they would consider it for the reprint. Repeat: "It's cool to be in abook. It's cool to be in a book..." :-)

  2. I had a different experience I would like to share.
    But first, ladies, I am so very sorry this was your experience. How awful to have no control over your own work. And now that I have contributed, it is something to be warned about.
    I was contacted to contribute to this book and as it was my first,it was a wonderful experience but I also had control (this time).
    What I want to add to your review is the chapter I wrote about well-being. I think this part has been missing to the extent in other books. I provided information about mindfulness and explaining and supporting the benefits of the Zentangle process.
    I am glad you are trying to embrace it as part of your already amazing collection of books..

    1. Hi Meredith - I didn't mean to belittle any of the newer additions! You are correct - that aspect has been missing. But that's why I feel so confused by this book - the publisher is insisting that this is not a "new" book. And yet... it IS a new book. Your material alone changes it. What I think they should have done is just do a new book! And I think you should have been offered your own, with your own style and perspective. FrankenJoy is a mashup of books and styles. I'm not sure that most people will realize that - and that's probably a good thing! But any of us who have been "mashed" in, will definitely feel it. And, again, that's why I am struggling to accept this baby and be happy - after all - it IS a book - and I LOVE doing books! But NOT accepting it wouldn't be fair to everyone else who is now a part of it (like you!)

  3. You grew up surrounded by body parts in jars? Well...I guess maybe that will come out in your next book? Certainly something to discuss more at Halloween! :-)

    There are surely an amazing # of Zentangle books out there and I have just ordered or pre-ordered from Amazon Beckah's book AND this book, Joy of Zentangle. Beckah's book is being offered at Dick Blick in his Christmas catalog which makes me feel that Zentangle is going "mainstream" now! Pretty soon people will not be saying "What is a Zentangle" much anymore! It was fun to read this review and I am looking forward to getting it the first week in November (is what they predict). I am anxious to read Meredith's chapter on well-being as well.

    1. My mom was a medical examiner... yes, that belongs in another post! :-)

      Yes - Mainstream. FrankenJoy was released in order to compete with the books from North Light and Quarry - the big companies who sell in the big stores. Design Originals was always happy - and effective- aimed at the crafting crowd and smaller shops.

  4. sandy - i already have all 3 books pre-ordered and waiting for them to get here :) i can't wait!

    1. THANK YOU!(from all of us)
      I am pretty excited too.

  5. Sounds like a great book. I can't wait to get it.

  6. I just received the book today. This is my first zentangle book, and I love it. The best part is on 116 where you show an exercise for combining tangles. I have been practicing different tangles for several months now, but I could not figure out how to combine them til I saw your exercise. I have been hesitant to spend the money on tiles, since my practice journal is not pretty, LOL. I'm going to use this exercise for a while to get the juices flowing. I enjoy your site and your art so much. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Susie Falkler

    1. Hi Susie - welcome to the highly addicting world of Zentangle! This book is the perfect first book of Zentangle. I just want to encourage you to "date" your exercises and be sure to keep everything - even the ones you might consider "mistakes" - you will be amazed when you look back and see your progress. :-) And thank you for reading my books and blog.

  7. I have your other books, as well as Suzanne's. While I see your point that the Tangle patterns presented are mostly from other books, I have to admit I LOVE it!!! The presentation is great and flows easily. This is FINALLY Thee Book I will buy multiple copies of for friends I want to encourage to Tangle with me.

    Thank you for following through to present this treasure.

  8. I have your other books and just now (because of YOU) orded this new book. Can not wait to get it. I am so addicted to this!! But could be addicted to something worse!! thanks for shareing you talent eith us. carol



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