Crossword Conundrums

Puzzling Ink, the first in my new Crossword Mysteries launches on November 3rd and I’m wiggly with excitement. Wiggly, I tell you! All the launch deets and how you can get your hands on a print copy (and win even MORE prizes) are here.

I hope everyone has joined the Facebook groups Becky’s Book Buddies and Cozy Mystery Crew because that is where all the launch action will be. I’m planning 24 (!!) hours of launch activities and giveaways, 12 at each venue, so if you’re not a member, get over there and answer the questions to open the secret doors and come celebrate with us. (You get tons of other stuff with your, ahem, free membership, including meeting new cozy authors, peeking behind the curtain into your favorite author’s lives, pictures of Nala, and just generalized fun.)

You don’t need to solve the puzzles in the books in order to solve the mysteries. They’re just little bonus bits like a recipe or instructions for a craft.

I understand that not everyone shares my love of crosswords, but for some of you, it may simply be because you don’t know the rules. So I’m here to metaphorically grasp tight to your widdle pencil-clutching hand and guide you through the deadly and treacherous* terrain of word games.

*not deadly or treacherous

I made a short video explaining some of the more common ways crossword constructors (like my protagonist Quinn Carr and by extension … me) try to trick you.

After you watch it, go to my website page where I’m beginning to post my puzzles. If you’ve never done a crossword before, I’d love it if you’d give one of mine a spin. If you already like crosswords, let me know what you think of this one.

If you’re just beginning to solve crosswords, use a pencil and erase as much as you need to. I go through and fill in all the answers I know, across and down. When you go back to the beginning, words will have begun to take shape. One thing I’ve learned not to do is take a wild stab and write it in because then that becomes all you can see for that entry. Hold back if you can until you get more squares filled in. If you have to walk away from the puzzle, do so! Your subconscious continues to work on the puzzle and when you come back, you’ll probably have more than one “Duh!” moment.

Be sure to post a comment about your attempt because I’m giving away a digital copy of PUZZLING INK to a random commentor who completes one of my puzzles before Wed, October 28, or at least tries to.

So, Best Beloved … do you like crosswords? Hate ’em? Never done one? Are you a member of Becky’s Book Buddies and Cozy Mystery Crew? Are you coming to my all-digital 24-hour launch party?

41 thoughts on “Crossword Conundrums

    1. Thanks, Marla! It’s weird how we cycle through different hobbies. Until the pandemic, I had forgotten how I used to do so many jigsaw puzzles. Hadn’t even crossed my mind in years! Let me know how you do on the puzzles. There are only a couple up there right now, but I’ll be posting more.

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  1. I use crosswords to keep my brain busy. It’s great for everyone but especially for older people to offset any brain disorders. I can’t wait to read your book and see how you’ve wound crossword puzzles into the plot.

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    1. Congrats on the upcoming release, Becky! I have to confess, I’m not much of a crossword puzzle person. While I enjoy the challenge, I also lack the patience needed with them. In other words, I’m a little too lazy! lol

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      1. Thanks, JC … and I get that, really I do … especially with the hard ones! But I see it a bit differently. When I’m doing a puzzle while I eat lunch, I can streeeeetch that lunch out and procrastinate my less fun chores while I work longer on the puzzle! Tomato, potahto, right??

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    2. Thanks, robeader! I find it fascinating how something as seemingly simple as a crossword can give people those extra bits of connections in their little gray cells. I’m glad you like them!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so funny! It seems you liked the social aspect of crosswords. I know a lot of people enjoy crosswords as a team sport, but I don’t. Maybe I’m just a smarty-pants and want all the glory of a completed grid to myself!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t see the London Times puzzles … just the NYT, LAT, and lesser-known syndicated ones. I was afraid of the Saturday and Sunday puzzles for a long time—so big and scary!—but then I tried one and it was challenging but not impossible, so I was hooked. They can take me a few days, though. I think of it as letting it percolate through my mind.

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      1. There used to be a magazine called New York that had the Sunday London Times puzzle on the last page. I’d carry it around with me in my bookbag in HS and my backpack in college, waiting for inspiration to strike re a particular clue. Since the mag was a monthly, I had a good bit of time to try to solve the whole thing.

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    2. They have a daily mini-crossword now in the NYT digital version. You just type in the answers on your phone. No telltale eraser marks or cross-outs!

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      1. I have digital crosswords on my ipad. It’s so convenient and they have easy, medium, hard, and very hard. I’ve been stuck on a hard one for few days though, so I doubt I’ll be trying a very hard one anytime soon! I’m glad it’s on the ipad though, because it’s just unwieldy enough that I don’t get obsessed with them all day when I should be doing other things.

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  2. I do the NYT Sunday puzzle, and sometimes others as well (though the Sunday one tends to take me most of the week to finish…). When I was a teenager, a friend of my dad’s offered me ten pounds for each answer I could complete to the Times of London crossword (we were in England at the time). Nope. Couldn’t get one single answer. It’s a HARD puzzle. (Lots of tricky puns and cryptic clues.)

    Congrats on the new book, Becky! Having been lucky enough to get a sneak peak, I can tell everyone that you’re in for a big treat!!

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  3. Congratulations, Becky! I’ll be honest. I don’t do crossword puzzles because they make me feel dumb. BUT if there’s anything that’s going to change that, it’s your series. It’s so much fun! And I love how Quinn incorporates clues into the puzzles to send messages to the police chief. I have that right, right?

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    1. Yes, your memory is perfectly intact, Ellen. Nobody knows Quinn constructs the puzzles so she’s able to slip in subliminal clues to steer the investigation. Chief would rather pretend there’s no crime in their little utopia.

      And I can’t believe you wouldn’t do well on crosswords, Ellen! You know a lot of words and you understand puns and subtext and such. It’s almost certainly just a matter of you not knowing all the “rules” like I talk about in my videos. It’s the same reason I can’t play video games … I never know what I’m supposed to do!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with El. I like the idea of crossword puzzles, and I’ll do them once in a while, but sometimes I’m left feeling quite ignorant. (I much prefer word searches because the answers are right there!)

    Congrats on your new series, Becky! I’ll definitely drop by your launch!

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  5. LOVE crossword puzzles, Becky, but I can’t imagine creating them! I’m in awe of your mad skills — can’t wait for the release of Puzzling Ink!

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    1. Thanks so much, Vickie! But wait until you do any of mine to pass judgment on them. They may just be mad! And I might definitely be … some puzzles make me absolutely ka-RAZY when I’m trying to make them. At least now though, I know it’s not just me, even experienced constructors want to tear their hair out sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations, Becky!

    I have a love-hate relationship with crosswords. I’m good at helping other people with theirs, but when I sit down to do one by myself it’s like my brain leaks out of my ear. Words? What are they? But I will definitely have to give yours a spin.

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    1. Thanks, Liz … that’s hilarious! I’m kinda the opposite. If someone says to me, “Five letter word … it’s your first name,” I’d say, “Um … LAUNDRY? BACKYARD? PRINCEVALIANT? I dunno, that’s a hard one.”

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    1. Oh, pshaw, Mark. You have all the knowledge you need, although I will say that there are certain entries that you see over and over again. Mel OTT is an old baseball player, ETTA James sings jazz, NEHI is an old-timey soda, ORC is a Hobbit foe … and so on. You get to where you don’t even have to read the clues sometimes! It’s like how I always win sports trivia even though I know nothing about sports. Every answer is either Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr.

      All that said, you don’t have to solve or even like crosswords to enjoy the crossword mysteries. Because Quinn constructs them, the reader is privy to the main clues—the theme entries—and the mystery isn’t contingent on the puzzles. Because THAT would be hard!

      I am curious (and a bit nervous) about how non-puzzlers will take to these mysteries. I’ve decided that puzzlers will think of it as a bonus feature, and non-puzzlers will gloss over the puzzle and simply enjoy the mystery. And maybe even a few non-puzzlers will dip a toe in the crossword waters … we’ll see!

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    1. Thanks so much, Margaret! Depending on the timing, maybe you’ll be reading it during late-night rocking chair sessions with that new baby! Feel free to read it aloud … there aren’t any pictures, except for the puzzles, but babies like black-and-white, right?

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  7. Congrats on the cool new series, Becky! My favorite place to do crossword puzzles is on an airplane, because I find they’re great for stress reduction. I’m so focused I don’t feel the need to ask the flight attendant if we’ll be landing soon or whether that turbulence/funny noise was normal. I’m also a big fan of Wheel of Fortune.

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    1. That IS a great place to do them. I always have crosswords when I travel because they’re a great decoy when I’m “conversationally shoplifting” in airports, hotels, or restaurants. It doesn’t look like you’re eavesdropping at all, just that you’re stuck on a clue!

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  8. My mother adored crossword puzzles, just not on the scale of the New York Times. There was a special spot by her place at the table reserved for her crossword dictionary(the large one, used only if she was truly stumped). I like them, mainly from helping her work some. I will have to check this series out.

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    1. Thanks, Emily! The big crossword dictionary sounds like serious business. I’ll admit I don’t use a dictionary when I’m stumped … I just peek at the answers. I have an uncanny ability to only see the entry that stumps me, so I don’t ruin the rest of the puzzle for myself. It’s one of the few skills I really cherish!

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  9. Yay, so excited for this book! I like doing crosswords but I don’t typically have time (need to work on that)…though I stack up things that have crosswords in them for, you know, later. I didn’t realize until this moment that you have an election-day book birthday! How patriotic!

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    1. LOL, Cynthia! I’m sure my publisher wasn’t concerned about an election day launch. The dates are chosen so far in advance, they probably didn’t even realize! But my 24-hour launch party will be a way for me and everyone else to step away from the stress of election day coverage every so often. As for having time, I only do crosswords when I eat breakfast or lunch. I’ll neither admit nor deny eating v e e e e r y slowly some days …

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  10. All congrats and kudos, Becky! I’m in awe of your endless talents!

    I have JUST started doing crosswords. My dad recently became a puzzle fan and has roped me in. In fact, he cuts out and photocopies daily crosswords from his local paper and mails (with, like, a stamp and everything) them to me. It’s been fun to compare notes. We’ve found that our answers are very complementary!

    Congrats again and squee!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohmygosh, Kathy! That is the cutest thing I have EVER heard! My dad got me hooked on crosswords too, but wasn’t very good about sharing. In fact, I was staying at his house once and was meeting a friend at a nearby restaurant. I assumed she’d be late (because, yanno, history), so I asked if I could take the crossword from his paper to work as I waited. The look he gave me still makes me shudder.

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