Tiny Moments of Zen

The Zentangle people recently came out with smaller tiles called “Bijou”–there’s a painfully cute backstory about a hitchhiking French snail involved (it’s rather sweet)–and I recently ordered a few for practicing single tangles at a time.









The nice thing about these smaller tiles is that they’re, well, smaller.  I don’t have a ruler handy, but they’re only about 2″ square, while the standard size tiles are 3.5″ square or nearly 4 times the size.  With the smaller size, I can concentrate more on each specific pattern I’m working on for that tile without having to think too much about the overall composition. And eventually, these will all be a good reference for selecting patterns for the larger tiles.


One of these things is not like the others, one of them doesn’t belong…


And, actually: I haven’t looked at ANY of these books. I bought the most recent Vlad Taltos book several months ago when it came out. So I am VERY DUBIOUS about this algorithm. Not that it isn’t amusing.

Necromancy, Living Gods, and Intrigue: Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead

Book Cover

Ha! No sooner do I decide to expand my focus here that I read a book that is SO GREAT that I have to write about it. OF COURSE.

That book would be Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead (disclosure: I’m friendly with both Max and his editor at Tor) which had been languishing on my Kindle for most of this year. I don’t even know what impulse made me open it up this weekend, but I’m glad I did–from the very first page, it’s a hell of a read.

I don’t want to go into a detailed plot summary–to do so, I think, would destroy the delight of discovery, but I will say that for a debut novel–this is extraordinarily accomplished.  The worldbuilding is complex and holds together, the plotting is precise and economical, and I loved all the characters, especially Tara Abernathy.

The other cool thing about this book is that while it’s the first book to come out in this series, it’s actually the third chronologically–there’s a whole post about the chronology, in fact.

This book was really so much fun to read. There’s necromancy and legal maneuvering and hive-mind police officers and poetry-writing gargoyles and gods. The gods might be my favorite part. Or the Deathless Kings. Or the vampires.  Or the temple which is also a power plant (and the maintenance logs are a critical plot point, be still my heart). Or maybe it’s all these details combined with a confident narrative voice and with characters that are compelling and fully fleshed out–you get the sense that these are people with full lives and stories and we’re only seeing a fraction of their complexity here. Love that.

In summary: loved this book. You might love it, too.

Links: 12/05/14

I’m cleaning out my backlog of links this week–brace yourselves.

Zen and the Art of Drawing Lines

I have a cat on my arm. Why does she do this? She is such a strange beast, this cat.

Which has nothing to do with what I want to write about, which is Zentangle. Which is what got me going down the road to having entirely too many art supplies.  Basically, it’s structured doodling. It can be meditative and it works as a mindfulness exercise as well.

However, Zentangle works for me because it teaches me that art is an iterative process. By taking things one step at a time and by sitting with something I’ve made and thinking about what does and doesn’t work for me–that I can improve at this drawing thing and become more sure of myself.  It’s a slow process, for sure.  The key is recognizing that it is a process. And the iteration.

So in that spirit, I present my second attempt at a new tangle called “akuras“–I’m not sharing my first attempt because it ended up looking like a sphincter and no one wants to see that. I did use an “official” tile and a Micron pen for this–they are lovely materials but if you’re on a budget any old paper and pen will work.  And I’ve found that this is a decent source for tangles.

zentangle 2014-12-01-small


And here’s an ATC I did last week that was also inspired by this particular kind of structured doodling.