Blog - Joanna Campbell Slan

The Friday Night Mystery Club — A book 30 years in the making

I’m often asked, “How long does it take you to write a book?”

The answer is, “Depends on the book.”

The Friday Night Mystery Club took me thirty years. I don’t know why. I don’t have a good reason.

No, that’s not entirely true. As I recall, I submitted it to my (then) agent, and she wasn’t impressed. I now know that agents aren’t always good judges of what will sell. Some, I assume, are. Especially if it means “will sell to a traditional publishing house.” But others aren’t. The world of indie publishing has proved that, time after time.

When I revisited The Friday Night Mystery Club, I’d expected to have to tear it apart. As it turned out, the book simply needed a good polish. As I read it, memories came flooding back. I set the book in Decatur, Illinois, a place where I lived briefly. Included is the milieu of the daily newspaper where I worked as an ad rep. As I re-read the book, I could see the newspaper bullpen, I could feel the rubber cement we used, I could hear the noises of the reporters as they gathered stories for publication, and I could sense the bustle that was so much a part of a news organization.

But The Friday Night Mystery Club is a stand-alone. At this point, I cannot imagine turning it into a series–although anything is possible! So the question was, what do I do with this beast?

And then along came Vella. This is Amazon’s attempt to get ahead of a revived trend, serializing books. Seems that most countries have a huge number of readers who only consume books on their smart phones. That means they’re perfectly positioned to read books that are broken into smaller chunks and delivered piece by piece. I’d heard that a big Chinese conglomerate was making moves to capture this serialized reading market. I guess Amazon heard the same rumor and decided to try again, since they’d done short reads before without much success.

What does that mean to you, dear reader? As soon as The Friday Night Mystery Club is available on Vella, we’ll let you know. We were told it would take 48 hours to process the book, but there’s always the chance Amazon might ask us to make a change and that might delay the release. The good news is…the whole book is written. Yup. Fini. And it only took me 30+ years!

Here’s a description of the story:

Decatur, Illinois/1986—A nasty divorce leaves Cragan Collins with a mountain of bills and a vindictive ex-husband. To survive financially, Cragan takes a job as a newspaper ad salesperson. Her timing couldn’t have been worse. The Gazette has the highest ad cost in the nation, and Decatur tops the charts in unemployment. Cragan has no choice but to succeed because she’s supporting her aging grandmother who has recently had a stroke.

A bright spot in her life is her friendship with business reporter, Robert Smithson. Robert encourages and mentors Cragan. And then one icy day in January, his lifeless body is discovered in an equipment box on the grounds of a city park.

Because Robert was a known homosexual, there’s little interest in catching his killer. The murder is dismissed as a gay-on-gay crime. Cragan doesn’t believe that’s what happened because she knows Robert—and he was in a committed relationship.

Determined to find justice for her friend, Cragan puts her courage to the test. She turns to her four female housemates for help. The founding members of The Friday Night Mystery Club are used to dealing with sexism, racism, and stupid-ism. Working together, they follow clues and track down leads. As for Cragan, she’s willing to stick her nose in places that the police aren’t willing to go. Along the way, she makes enemies, powerful people who want her gone.

The stakes are high. Cragan’s quest to uncover the truth might land her on the obituary page.


GURDELL– a new Zentangle tangle!

I’ve been playing around with my tangles a lot lately, probably because I’m inspired by Eni Oken’s classes. I saw a print on a pillow and that led me to deconstruction of the design. Deconstruction means taking an image apart and figuring out how to replicate it. Actually, here are the steps:

  1. Look at the image carefully — Get the best, most clearest version of the image you can.
  2. Enlarge the image if possible — Funny thing. When you enlarge an image, you see it differently!
  3. Cover the image with tracing paper.
  4. Break the image down into these parts– i, s, c and o. These are the four strokes that comprise any image!
  5. Look for the repetition.

At first, the image I saw was a simple diamond. That’s it. That’s all. But once I went through the steps, I realized there was a pattern–and that meant I could replicate it.

So, I present to you…GURDELL. So named because the “girdle” is that portion of a diamond that divides the top from the bottom. Think of it as a belt going around the waist of the gem.

Deconstruction of my new tangle.


Some tips to notice–

  1. While this is not necessarily a grid pattern (actually I think it’s a blossom pattern), starting out with a box or a grid is helpful.
  2. Once you have that space, you can mark two small hashmarks, top and bottom, of the square.
  3. And a horizontal line.
  4. Next you make a series of carrots or /\ marks. Start in the middle with the largest and make them smaller as you go out.
  5. Yes, I suppose you COULD make the /\ marks all the same size, but if you do, you’ll lose some of the 3-D possibilities.
  6. Mirror the /\ marks, under the horizontal line.
  7. Draw diagonal lines from the tips of the /\ marks and connect them to the small hashmarks.

About shading–

  1. Consider the lines from the tips of the /\ as the high points of the image. Therefore, they would be the whitest/lightest in value because you want them to pop out.
  2. Shade lines from the horizontal line spaces BETWEEN the /\ to make the valleys.
  3. Shade below the horizontal line and /\ marks.
  4. Shade the top and bottom.
A blossom tangle, I presume?

In my color version, I highlighted the lines from the /\ to the hashmarks. I think they nicely added drama.

I presume this is a blossom pattern because it fits all the hallmarks of a blossom pattern in the Zenology. It’s striking, self-contained, and it dominates the space. Next I think I’ll take the diamond apart and see if I can turn this into a ribbon pattern!

Do you like GURDELL? Any questions about it?


There’s an Alien in the Trash Can–My Halloween Project

Every year for the past three years, I’ve entered the HBS Halloween Miniature Challenge. I’ve won first and second places. My entry this year is and you can vote on it from Oct. 26-30, 2020.

This summer, I started work on my 2020 project. I decided it would be all recycled and handmade. Let me walk you through what I did…


  1. The house–It’s a cereal box. (GrapeNuts) So the siding is cut from strips from the box. The window was drawn onto the box and cut out three or four times. I sandwiched a piece of plastic packaging between the window layers–but only on the top half so the window would look open. The mullions are coffee stirrers. I painted the outside a dirty white.
  2. House interior–I found an antique scrapbook paper for the back wall. I had to figure out how deep to make that wall. I think it’s 2.5 inches, and of course, that determined how deep the sides of the house would be. I also created a small shelf, horizontal to the bottom of the window. The curtains are an old handkerchief, dipped in a mix of Elmer’s white glue and water. (I keep bottles of this around. When a plastic bottle is nearly empty, I add water and mix it. Then I label it for use.)
  3. The foundation of the house–The stones are actually bits of egg cartons, torn up, and glued down. If you soak the egg cartons (the pressed paper kind) in lots of glue, they will sort of break down and you can manipulate it into shapes like these stones. I also used some moss from the Dollar Store to give the stone foundation an old look.
  4. The lamppost–Sticking a length of string through a straw, I was able to pull up and through one of the tiny LED light strings. ( For the base, I rolled cardstock into a cone and cut a hole in the top of the cone, so that I could wrap it around the straw and have it flare out. I used more strips of paper to make the trim around the “glass” of the lamp. The glass is a piece of plastic curled and glued with hot glue into shape. Then I mixed yellow acrylic paint with Elmer’s White Glue to make the frosted yellow color and painted the inside of the “glass.” Hot glue holds the lights in place inside the “glass.” The lid was make by stacking buttons and a bead. Thin wire with a bead on each end makes the “arms” under the lamp. The base is a plastic nozzle from a plastic pump but I could have used the end of a tube of toothpaste. Everything is spray-painted black. The wires from the lights then run UNDER the bricks and the grass and up into the back of the house. The battery pack is glued to the back of the house.
  5. The brick path and curb–I used a piece of scrapbook paper with a brick pattern. The curb is a section from an egg carton or some other pressed paper carton. I kept it because it looked like a curb! The leaves are from a floral wreath I bought at Michaels.
  6. The grass–This is a piece of terrycloth, an old washcloth colored with green and brown paint.
  7. The trashcan–I drew a circle and divided it so that I could get the right shape. (Go to this tutorial for the general idea, only a trash can is bigger– You can also use a pop bottle or catsup bottle or anything with the proper shape. After I had the shape I wanted, I gently wet the top layer of a piece of corrugated card. I peeled off the “skin” and left the ribs. Then I formed the trash can around the top of the pop bottle. I wrapped a second piece of card around the first and secured it with rubber bands. (Otherwise, you’ll get dimples where the rubber bands go.) When it was dry, I glued the side together. I traced the small opening for the bottom and the larger, top opening on card to make the bottom and the lid. I put a large hole in the bottom, so I could run a light through it. I painted everything to look old and yucky. Then I chose my trash and stuffed and glued it inside, but I left off the lid.
  8. Pumpkin and Alien–Rolling a tight ball of aluminum is the key here. I put acrylic clay over the aluminum and shaped it into a pumpkin and an alien, but the trick is that after you bake the clay, you pull out the aluminum. That leaves you with a hollow center for lights. I also put some yellow plastic behind the alien’s eyes so they glowed.
  9. The cat was also made from clay.

That’s pretty much it. If you have questions, email me!

Excerpt from Law, Fully, Dead: Book #15 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series

Tuesday was an ordinary but dreary day. The slush had turned to rain around ten the night before. Now all the frozen patches had melted overnight.

Perhaps Tuesday seemed normal because it was totally overshadowed by Wednesday, which was the day that Clancy got the phone call. The phone call. I think of it like that because few other phone calls ever mattered the way that one did. It was one etched in our memories.

We were standing in the back room. I’d finished a cup of coffee and was rinsing out my mug. Clancy waited beside me, as she intended to wash out her tea cup. When the phone rang, she pulled it out of the back pocket of her slacks.

She was holding the phone to her ear when the color drained from her face and her eyes fluttered as if they might roll back in her head. Despite her carefully applied red lipstick, her lips turned pale. When she wobbled, swaying on her feet, I shoved a chair under her butt. I couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation, but the change in her expression and posture told me her phone call was bad news. Really bad. My first thought was of her kids. One or both of them. There is no misery in life more devastating than the loss of a child, so it made perfect sense that my mind would immediately conjure up gruesome imaginings. Once Clancy was seated, I raced to the refrigerator and grabbed a plastic bottle of water. After unscrewing the cap, I offered it to her.

All this and it wasn’t even nine a.m. Our doors wouldn’t even open for another full hour. Clancy being Clancy, she’d arrived early. But the bad news had still managed to find her.

This drama had to be a first for Time in a Bottle. Usually earth-shaking life events start after the customers show up. The odd timing alone added a pinch of the unexpected.

“Uh-huh,” Clancy said to the voice on the phone, but it was really more of a moan than a confirmation. She swigged the water I’d handed her. “Yes, I understand. But you do realize that I’m his ex. Ex-wife. Not his current spouse. He remarried, um, two weeks ago.”

My turn to wobble and nearly fall down. Trust Clancy to keep a big deal like that secret. She could be so closed in, so private, and so aloof…often to her detriment. Such isolation, emotionally, kept her from getting the support she needed. In this case, I’d been wondering why she was prickly. Gee whiz, had it really only started two weeks ago. Felt like an eternity.

Now I knew. If she’d told me, I would have…

Would have done what?

I’d like to think I’d have been nicer to Clancy, but honest to Pete, I’m typically Mrs. Nice Guy, unless there’s a specific reason for me to get my dander up. Perhaps I’d have been more solicitous, asking her what I could do or encouraging her to share. Truth to tell, none of those strategies would have worked with Clancy. When she gets a bee in her bonnet, as my Nana used to say, she’s as sting-happy as an entire angry hive, and talking her down is nearly impossible.

Recovering from the shock I’d been given, I listened in on her call as best I could. “He is where? Are you s-s-sure it’s Lawrence? How do you know?”

She went quiet. I held my breath. Lawrence was her husband’s—her ex-husband’s—name.

She continued, “Look, I don’t care if he had his wallet on him. You and I both know the death examiner wouldn’t accept that as proper identification. It might not be Lawrence Whitehead in that hospital bed. You’ve got a lot of nerve calling and upsetting me like this.”

She added, “How bad is it?”

“Oh…no…” she gasped.

I wish I’d heard the details. All I could do was imagine.

Clancy continued, “Have you talked to Bambi? No, I don’t mean the Disney character. Bambi is Lawrence’s new—current—wife. Has she seen him?”

I waited for an answer. Watching Clancy told me she got one. “Bambi said what? Oh, for heaven’s sake. She’s not up to a hospital visit? He’s her husband, her problem, not mine!”

Clancy babbled, “That jerk. That creep. I should have known something like this would happen! And the nerve of her! You say she’s too upset to handle this! Baloney. Tell her to pull up her big girl thong and get her surgically inflated backside over to the hospital.”

Another pause. She set the water bottle on my worktable. I pulled my chair closer to hers so I could reach over and move the bottle away from the edge.

“That’s a lot of cow poop …excuse me? I’m his medical surrogate? What? You have to be kidding! He never changed from me to her?”

Her head dropped into the hand that wasn’t holding her phone. Her fingers tore at her face. “Yes, yes, I understand. Legal issues. Got it. All right. I’ll be there. Let me collect…”

She stopped once more. “Of course I plan to drive myself. What were you expecting, a broom ride?”

“I’ll take you,” I volunteered.

“Not on your life,” she snapped at me. The person on the other end of the line must have misunderstood. Clancy had the presence of mind to straighten him or her out tout suite. “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to my friend. Remember that word: friend. Lawrence doesn’t have any. And I’m not some fainting female. I’m perfectly fine driving myself to the hospital. But here’s the point—I shouldn’t have to. Lawrence Whitehead is not my problem. Period. I can refuse being the medical surrogate, can’t I?”

She listened and then said, “I signed it that long ago? Doesn’t it automatically become invalid? No? Doesn’t it need to be renewed annually? It doesn’t? Well, I think a divorce invalidates it. Why wouldn’t it? We’re estranged in every other way!”

Clancy quickly shot to her feet. She began a one person march through the back room. She’d moved from shocked to snarky, and her voice was dripping with sarcasm. “Speaking of facts, let’s go over them, shall we? Bambi, the current Mrs. Whitehead, wasn’t too fragile when she set her cap for Lawrence, who was my husband at the time. She wasn’t too fragile when she insisted he bribe my children so they’d book an expensive cruise and leave me all alone over the holidays, two years in a row. She wasn’t too fragile to hold parties and introduce herself to all his business associates as his new wife. And she certainly wasn’t feeling fragile when she got pregnant, accidentally on purpose, so that their union was sanctified—and I use that word with vast reservations—by a child. Poor thing.”

Even when furious, Clancy spoke like the former high school English teacher she was. That vocabulary of hers was a thing of beauty.

I dared to ask a question. I shouldn’t have, because I was interrupting her train of thought. But I did. I held up one finger and wondered, “By poor thing, I’m guessing you mean the child?”

Clancy froze mid-stride, whirling in front of me and pinning me down with her gaze. “Of course I do!” she shrieked at me. “I wouldn’t waste my time feeling sorry for Dumb-Doe.”

“Dumb-Doe?” I repeated.

“Rhymes with Dumbo. My private nickname for Bambi.”

“Right.” I nodded, thinking the moniker made perfect sense. Who names a child Bambi? Okay, who besides Walt Disney? Hmmm? Nobody I know. No one with a lick of sense.

To be continued…To pre-order your copy of Law, Fully, Dead go to

Excerpt from RUFF JUSTICE: Book #5 in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series

Author’s Note: Mrs. Delahunty, one of Cara’s customers, has invited Cara to a birthday party for her golden retriever, Mally.


The morning of Mally’s birthday party dawned gray, ugly and stormy on Jupiter Island. My sliding doors were hard to see through because intense winds had coated the glass with bits of grass, salt spray, and dirt. The weather forecast was encouraging, however. The bad weather would blow over, and we were supposed to have a lovely day. Or as we often joke to each other, “Just another gorgeous day in Paradise!”


After taking the dogs outside and changing the cat litter, I went into work. I knew exactly what I’d give Mally as a birthday gift, in addition to my donation to the no-kill shelter on the invitation. EveLynn had sewn three dog neckerchiefs in upscale fabrics. One was a creamy damask, shot through with threads of gold. A slender gold chain had been hand-stitched to the longest edge. Another kerchief was a vintage botanical print in navy on an ivory background. To the long side of the triangle, EveLynn added navy trim with tiny navy pompoms. The third scarf was a slub silk in turquoise. Seashells were sewn along the long edge. Although Mrs. Delahunty had said not to bother with gifts, I could be honest and explain that having Mally wear my new dog apparel was good for my business. And it would be. I was sure of that.

As I carefully wrapped the presents for Mally, satisfaction brought a smile to my face. These upscale dog kerchiefs would sell like hotcakes!

After the fabric gifts were wrapped in a layer of tissue paper, I turned my attention to finishing the birthday card. Inside the envelope, I tucked a copy of the check I’d written to a no-kill shelter. In a padded, recycled enveloped, I added a frame holding the photo I’d taken of Nina and Mally at the groomer’s salon. The six-by-eight-inch frame was a soft gray. All my festive offerings went inside an aqua-and-blue gift bag. I stepped back to admire it. My mother used to say that it’s the sizzle people enjoy, not the steak. I hoped I’d done this sizzle proud! It wasn’t only a gift for Mrs. Delahunty. It was also a tribute to Mally and Nina as well as an ad for my store.

The Treasure Chest is usually quiet in the morning, and today was no exception, perhaps because bad weather was starting to announce its arrival. We keep a weather alert radio on all the time in the back room. We’ve also put three sleeping bags, three gallons of water, and snack bars near the bathroom door. The restroom is the only room on the ground level that doesn’t have a glass window, so it’s the safest place of all in a bad storm. Florida weather could be terribly unpredictable, and the weather alert system assured me that all my friends would have enough time to hunker down under the sleeping bags and get comfy. At noon, Honora and Skye took over for me, so I could go to Mally’s birthday party. The Delahunty house was not beachfront, but it did face the Intracoastal Waterway, which meant the view was exquisite. Three other cars were parked in the driveway. I pulled up alongside of a blue Jaguar convertible.

Nina answered the front door and ushered me through the house and into the lanai. Our young friend looked adorable. She wore white palazzo pants in denim and a floral multi-colored top. “You look terrific,” I told her.

“So do you.” She admired my vintage Lilly Pulitzer shift that I’d paired with an aqua cardigan. My pretty gold sandals added a nice touch of glamour, even if I had purchased them at TJ Maxx.

Mrs. Delahunty wore a flowing white top festooned with colorful embroidery over a pair of khaki linen pants. Next to Mrs. Delahunty, Mally sat at attention with a look of eager interest on her doggy face. Her ears pricked up as she watched the goings on carefully. As usual, the purple unicorn hung from her mouth.

The other party guests were Mrs. Joyce Crispin, Mrs. Doris Ballard, and Mrs. Agnes Severin. All were residents of Jupiter Island. After Mrs. Delahunty introduced me, I realized that Brooke had been incredibly strategic in her planning. One reason for my invitation had been to garner more business for my store. “Joyce, Doris, and Agnes, have you seen Cara’s store? It’s absolutely top-notch.”

That was only the beginning. Brooke Delahunty went on to praise The Treasure Chest and me to the skies.

Meanwhile, Nina made multiple trips to the kitchen and brought us drinks and snacks. I would have offered to help, but I figured it might make everyone uncomfortable. After all, Nina was the hired help and I was a guest. There’s a certain protocol to Jupiter Island get-togethers. Those who violate the rules are subject to receiving a black cashmere sweater in the mail. The sweater is a veiled suggestion that the receiver should go back North and stay there.

So for once, rather than helping to serve the food and drinks, I sat with my feet up (so to speak) and enjoyed myself. The conversation was a lively discussion of the most recent speaker at the Jupiter Island Entertainment Series. I’d heard this particular author’s presentation and read her book, so I was also able to participate. As we talked, Nina served us iced tea, a variety of finger sandwiches, cookies and small candies. Although the invitation hadn’t said as much, we were being served an English high tea. Mally was an affectionate birthday girl who nuzzled each of us guests, which was kind of gross because her stuffed unicorn never left her mouth. I wound up with a big streak of slobber down my arm. Not that I minded. Clearly Mally never let go of her lovey, not even when she was at home. That poor toy was soaked with dog drool. Nina caught me staring at the soggy mess.

“Mally loves her toy. I wash it when I can, but that makes her nervous. She stands guard outside the laundry room door,” Nina confided in me.

“That poor unicorn needs help.” I pointed to a large rip in the side of the toy. The edge of the plastic squeaker peeped from between clouds of stuffing.

“I’ll have to sew it up while she’s eating her dinner tonight,” Mrs. Delahunty said. “I ordered white button thread from Amazon so it would be nice and strong. Ordinary thread doesn’t last long with Mally.”

“Button thread. That’s a brilliant idea.” I made a mental note to try that with the dog toys that Gerard, my Royal Bahamian Potcake dog had disemboweled. “Have you ever made Frankenstein toys for Mally?”

Seeing the confused looks, I explained. “When my dogs rip up a toy, I often wind up with a stray part like a leg or a tail. I sew the toys up again, but I mix the parts rather than matching them to the original toy. I call them Frankenstein toys. I’ve even sewn one of my socks and stuffed it before stitching on arms and a tail. My dogs love my socks. I guess even after they’re washed, my scent is on them.”

“What a cute idea,” Mrs. Delahunty said. “Nina? We’ll have to try that.”

Nina laughed. “Except that Mally only loves her unicorn. We don’t really have any other toys to donate body parts, do we?”

“That’s true.” Mrs. Delahunty gave her young friend the sort of warm smile that comes from one kindred heart to another.

Once we’d had our fill of the tea sandwiches and petit fours, Nina brought out a birthday cake made by Sweet Tiers, a local cake maker who is truly an artist. This cake was shaped like a dog bone and cleverly decorated with tiny chocolate paw prints. The yummy Sweet Tiers cake was for us, but because the “birthday girl” couldn’t go without, Nina also brought out a companion cake that Sweet Tiers had made exclusively for Mally. We sang “Happy Birthday” to the dog, and Mrs. Delahunty indulged us with slices of the yummy people treat. While we ate, Mrs. Delahunty opened Mally’s gifts. As I’d suspected, I wasn’t the only person who decided that money to a no-kill shelter wasn’t enough to properly celebrate the occasion. Mally received a ceramic dog bowl with her portrait painted on it, a new leash, and a bag of bully sticks. I was gratified that the new neckerchiefs were such a hit that both Mrs. Ballard and Mrs. Severin immediately ordered copies of Mally’s gifts for their dogs. Mrs. Crispin asked for two sets because she owns a pair of bichon frise siblings.

Not surprisingly, the party was a total success — and it would have been one of the best events I’d attended all year—until the doorbell rang. Nina hopped up to get it. We could hear the door open, and immediately everyone grew alert with curiosity. A woman about my age came into the lanai. Nina trailed along after the newcomer. Nervously, the caretaker announced, “Look who’s here, Mrs. Delahunty! Your daughter.”

Mrs. Delahunty changed in a flash. An expression crossed her face. The light went out of her eyes. Her mouth quivered and drooped.

Just as quickly, she mustered inner strength and a fixed smile appeared on her face, although she blinked a lot.

“Hi, Mom,” the woman said as she swooped down to give Mrs. Delahunty a kiss on the cheek. Annette was obviously Brooke Delahunty’s child because she’d inherited her mother’s good looks. A symmetrical face, auburn hair, and wide-set eyes were part of the younger woman’s allure. Unfortunately, all of that beauty disappeared when you noticed the sullen way she held her mouth, as if she’d bitten into an apple full of worms.

A wave of nausea swept through me. My nerves jangled, my hair stood on end, my eyes hurt, and my gut clenched in a spasm that took my breath away.

Mrs. Severin and Mrs. Ballard must have felt something similar. They set down their cake plates and dabbed their lips with their napkins, as a prelude to ending the celebration. Given Annette’s bad reputation, I wasn’t surprised when two of the partygoers signaled they weren’t sticking around. Mrs. Crispin must not have gotten the memo because she stared at the newcomer in surprise and sat there, mystified by the way her two friends were seemingly so eager to go. With Honora’s warning in my mind, I decided it was time to leave, too.


To be continued in Ruff Justice. Grab your copy here:

(Oct. 1 release)

Paperbag Tangling

Possibly my favorite surface for tangling is … a brown paper bag. I don’t know why I love it so much. Maybe because the size challenges me. Or the contrast of colors. But I always enjoy tangling on a paper bag. I used a thin Sharpie for this, plus a Gellyroll white ink pen. Which design is your favorite? Click on the image to enlarge it.

Excerpt from Law, Fully, Dead

Here’s an excerpt from Law, Fully, Dead: Book #15 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series Clancy’s husband has been in a bad auto accident, and he’s in the hospital in a coma:
“I see. How long has it been since your divorce?” Dr. Patel was incredibly gentle. I appreciated his soft way of asking questions without intimidating Clancy. She’d already had one bad blow, and another would unleash a new rainstorm of tears. Patel needed this information and he was smart enough to recognize that coaxing her along was the best way to get what he wanted.
“We separated two and a half, no, three years ago. We didn’t make the divorced final until two weeks ago.”
I fought to control my expression. Two weeks? I’d thought she’d signed the papers at least a year ago. What had taken her so long? A mental dope slap provided the answer: she’d hoped for a reconciliation. After all, Lawrence had come back to her and he’d indicated to her that he wasn’t happy with Bambi. We called him her ex-husband, but really, he hadn’t been. Until two weeks ago, he’d been her lawfully wedded spouse. What a shocker!
“And you were married for…” he let his voice trail off.
“Twenty-five years.”
Patel nodded. “A long time. You raised two children together, right?”
“Yes.” Clancy’s face was a blank. “But he also has another child. One with Bambi.”
“Excuse me?” Patel’s face scrunched up. He thought he’d misunderstood Clancy. “Bambi?” he repeated.
“Ain’t it a shame?” I said sarcastically. “Her name is Bambi. Hard to believe, isn’t it?”
For a heartbeat, I thought Patel would bust up laughing. He pulled his lips in, like an old codger who’s forgot his dentures. His expression went through a variety of permutations until finally he was back in control. “Bambi,” he said. “Like the deer?”
“That’s right. Are you a Disney fan?” I asked.
“Not in the least,” he said. “But my nieces and nephews love those movies so I keep a supply of them at my house. For their visits.”
Slapping the surface of the conference table with his open palm, Patel came to a conclusion. “All right. I’ll get the papers together so you can sign for him to have the MRI, Mrs. Whitehead. Wait right here.”
And we would have, but the door to the family conference room flew open and in walked Dumb-Doe.
“I demand to see my husband,” said Bambi, focusing on Dr. Patel as he had gotten to his feet. Her false eyelashes fluttered like enormous moths stuck to her eyelids. “You the doc? I’m the wife. I don’t want anything extra-terrestrial done to Lawrence.”
To Be Continued…pre-order your copy today!

Jo Knows How to Tangle: Lesson #2

Today we’re going to learn a new pattern, one that’s a favorite of mine–PokeLeaf. Typically Zentangle patterns are not representative, that means they aren’t an attempt to copy something that you might find in RL (Real Life). PokeLeaf is a bit of an exception because it’s obviously…wait for it…a leaf!

Introducing PokeLeaf–

You begin by drawing a skinny stick or finger:

Continue reading “Jo Knows How to Tangle: Lesson #2”

Jo Knows How to Tangle: Zentangle Lesson #1

By Joanna Campbell Slan

FYI–I participate in an Amazon affiliates program. The links in this article put small change in my pocket.  I only recomment items I use and like. By clicking on the links and making a purchase, you’re helping to buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Just sayin’!


Now we’re going to actually start tangling! We’ll start with setting up your tile to do Zentangle. Essentially, you will use your pencil to lightly make a frame on the inside of your tile. You will probably draw over this pencil line, but…that doesn’t matter. It’s just there to give you a sense of where your drawing should go.

So start like this…

Step #1–Using your pencil, draw a dot in each of the four corners in the tile. They don’t have to be big or perfect. They’re just placeholders.

Step #2–Using your pencil, connect the dots to make a frame. This does not have to be perfect–or even–or square. It’s just to help you center your work.

Step #3–Using your pencil, draw an X inside the frame. This X is called a “string.” In Zentangle, a string is like your skeleton. It supports the drawing. Rick Roberts came up with the idea of a “string” because his grandmother used to make rock candy. Have you seen that? You dip a string into sugar water and allow the sugar to crystalize on the string. In that same way, the string is a scaffold for your drawing. It divides the larger space into many smaller ones.

It also ruins your tile.

Gulp. Say what?

Most of us get intimidated by blank sheets of paper. We worry too much about making mistakes. By drawing a sloppy X in pencil on your tile, you have ruined it. (Of course, you have NOT ruined it, but it’s no longer pristine, is it?) And that frees you to be creative. What is creativity except the license to make mistakes?

Now we have “prepped” our tile for Zentangle. Next we will fill each of those four quadrants made by the X with a tangle (a pattern). This is what our final effort should look like — Your results may vary!–

About Zentangle patterns: These are incorrectly called “tangles” but I do a lot of stuff incorrectly, so that’s that. Tangles are to Zentangle tiles like words are to a sentence. The more words you know, the better you can express yourself. Don’t fret about memorizing them. You’ll later use your tiles as references. Don’t worry about making each motion perfect.

Instead…sink into the process. My son used to have this book about a pig that sank into the soft squishy mud. Your goal is to let yourself sink into this process. Don’t hurry. Don’t fret. Just BE in the moment. Take your time. Enjoy the process.

So what we’ll do next is teach you four “vocabulary” words. We’re going to start with “Printemps.” All Zentangle designs have a name. Some of the names are inconsistent. (More about that later.) “Printemps” is French for “spring,” and you’ll see why as I teach you to make this tangle. Essentially you are going to draw a coil shaped like a snail’s shell.

Go here to see the lesson:

Here’s the practice set of Printemps I did on a scrap piece of paper:

Okay, the Zentangle folks don’t really suggest practicing, but I do. I like working on a tangle, going over and over it, often in pencil until I feel like I’ve mastered it. So this week, I urge you to draw Printemps on…EVERYTHING. And I’ll see you here next week.