Why crossword puzzles? Why a crossword puzzle blog? Why the USA Today crossword?

If you are a crossword solver, I don't need to explain the appeal of these puzzles. If crosswords aren't your thing, that's okay, we all have different interests. I have enjoyed puzzles of all kinds for as long as I can remember. I can't pinpoint when solving crossword puzzles became a part of my daily routine, but at some point it happened. A few years ago when I was searching for a new adventure, I became a crossword constructor in addition to a solver. I remember sitting in my kitchen working the New York Times crossword when I had the thoughts: "I wonder who makes these puzzles? I wonder if I could make crossword puzzles?" Turns out the short answer is yes.

When I began researching crossword construction, I discovered so much more than information on how to make puzzles - I found the crossword community. Who knew crossword Twitter was a thing? (Not me!) Who knew there were Facebook groups to encourage new crossword constructors? (Not me!) Who knew there were blogs devoted to analyzing crossword puzzles? (Definitely not me!) Who knew the crossword community was a wonderful group of people joined by their love of solving and constructing crossword puzzles? (I know that now!) My discovery of the crossword community was a definite bonus to my decision to begin constructing crossword puzzles. I have found the crossword community to be incredibly supportive and encouraging. I have learned a lot from others in the community, about crosswords, about construction, and about a variety of topics that members of the community are interested in, such as theater, social justice issues, and baking!

Crossword blogs are directed at a niche audience, but then, isn't that true of most blogs? One of the things I enjoy about solving crossword puzzles is the opportunity to learn new things. I like it when a puzzle clue or answer piques my curiosity to find out more. Crossword blogs are a great way to find out more about puzzles and construction, but also to gain knowledge on a variety of subjects that show up in the puzzles.

After Erik Agard became the editor of the USA Today crossword in December 2019, I added that puzzle to my daily solving routine. I consider myself an above average, but not expert crossword solver. (I can solve the New York Times Monday through Thursday and Sunday puzzles without assistance, but occasionally need to look things up to finish Friday and Saturday puzzles.)  I like that the USA Today puzzle skews on the easier side and is therefore accessible to more solvers, including me! I appreciate the inclusivity that has been apparent in the puzzle's cluing and in the pool of puzzle constructors since Erik took over the editing the puzzle.

Although I was a fan of the USA Today crossword, I hadn't considered blogging about the puzzle until Rex Parker (aka Michael Sharp, one of the people daily blogging about the NYT crossword) tweeted, "My plate is full but Someone should be blogging the USA Today crossword, which is the most interesting, innovative, and provocative daily crossword at the moment..." I read the tweet and moved on, but the seed had been planted. 

And now, here I am, blogging the USA Today crossword puzzle every day. Crossword blogging combines crossword puzzles, research, and writing - all passions of mine! Toss in a consistently well-constructed, engaging, and delightful puzzle to talk about, and it's a winning combination.  I hope it's obvious from reading the blog that I thoroughly love writing it!