Reader Friday: Crossword Puzzles

The first crossword puzzle was published December 21, 1913, in The New York World by British journalist, Arthur Wynne. 109 years later, crossword puzzles remain wildly popular. A Google search revealed 10 free online crossword puzzles on the first page.

Being slow on these matters, I wondered, Are there free crossword puzzle builders? And, yes, there are. Here’s an article that lists “the best,”

What could be the benefit of using crossword puzzles for businesses or creatives? Well, here’s a link to that article:

And, being trained to keep asking, “What if,” and to think outside the box, I wondered if anyone is using crosswords on their blogs to engage readers.

So, I thought I would ask you, the TKZ community:

Here are today’s questions:

  1. Do you do any crossword puzzles?
  2. Why do you do them?
  3. Which ones do you like best?
  4. Have you ever thought of using crossword puzzles in your blogs to engage readers?

31 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Crossword Puzzles

  1. I do the NY Times mini cross every morning. I used to do books and books of crosswords. My favorites were the anacrostics. Haven’t done more than the minis in years, though.
    The only puzzle creations I’ve done were the ones for my junior high science students back in my teaching days. Most were word searches, but I might have attempted an actual crossword a few times. They weren’t the full grid sorts by any means.

    • Good morning, Terry. I sounds like you’ve had lots of experience with crossword puzzles. I have to admit that I had to look up anacrostics. I wonder if they could be used to engage readers on websites and blogs.

      Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Good morning, Steve. I unfortunately am somewhat of an expert with regard to cross words…oh, you mean crossword puzzles! Sorry. I don’t seek them out but will occasionally work them if I find a half-completed one in a discarded newspaper in a coffee shop. That’s the extent of my involvement.

    Several years ago I used one of the early crossword puzzle builders and made one up for my brother. All of the clues and answers involved our family members. I printed it out and mailed it to him. He received and opened it. He started laughing so hard as he completed it that he started hyperventilating and had to receive medical attention. He wants me to make him another one.

    Thanks, Steve. Hope you and Cindy have a great weekend!

    • Good morning, Joe. Interesting answers. I loved your story about your brother. Be sure to send him a tranquilizer along with the next crossword puzzle.

      And finding a partially completed crossword puzzle in a coffee shop, that could make some interesting plot twists in a story.

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend as well!

  3. Interesting idea, Steve.

    I used to do crosswords in magazines while waiting for doctors appointments. That was a sure way to get called to the exam room quicker–as soon as I was deeply into the puzzle, the medical assistant would beckon.

    As to creating a puzzle, that’s way out of my brain’s league but it would definitely catch my interest in a blog/newsletter.

    Have a great weekend, Steve.

    • Thanks, Debbie. Yep, whenever people talk about waiting, it’s always for a doctor’s appointment. And now, with computers in the exam room, things are even worse.

      As to creating crossword puzzles, I didn’t even know that there were free crossword puzzle builders available. All you have to do is provide a list of the answers, with the clues, and the program builds the crossword puzzle for you.

      Have a great weekend.

  4. What an amazing thing that you mention crosswords today, Steve. I’ve just been thinking in the last week or so “What do you have to do to create a book of crossword puzzles?”

    I personally do not do many crosswords, as the ones I come across are generally based on pop culture questions & uninteresting. I don’t pay attention to pop culture stuff. But it would be fun to do one on the history of Arizona, for example, or other specific areas of interest. I’ve barely scratched the surface on this but I gather you have to be careful what tool you use to create crosswords to avoid any copyright issues/conflict with software tools.

    I don’t have time this morning but will come back later to read your article links. Thanks!

    • Thanks, BK. I like your idea about creating a crossword on a specific area of interest. That’s where crosswords could really engage readers. If you have a following who read your books, build a crossword for them where the answers are characters in your books, etc. If your clues are enticing enough, it might get readers to pick up that book they haven’t read yet.

      When you get that crossword on the history of Arizona done, let us know.

  5. Thanks for filling in for me today, Steve. I’ve never considered using crossword puzzles to engage readers, but I look forward to reading that article.

    Hope you have a great weekend!

    • It’s my pleasure, Sue. Thanks for all the help you’ve given me in the past.

      Good luck with your presentation for the National Sisters in Crime tomorrow. I’m sure it will be wonderful.

      Have a great weekend!

  6. That’s what I love about this blog—now I not only have an idea for a blog post or two but maybe a plot for a story!

    I used to do the crossword puzzles in my local paper. Had a friend who worked them in ink. I’m not that smart.

    • I’m glad we gave you some ideas, Patricia. Those free crossword puzzle builders sound pretty simple. Give them a list of answers, along with the clues, and the computer puts it all together for you.

      I’m betting our mystery writing members will have all kinds of plot ideas.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Been a NYT crossword fanatic for over a decade and try to do it every day (in ink – for some reason I hate doing it in pencil). I even have the app on my phone – though I prefer to do it on paper. Can’t really resist any crossword but never used one in my writing or thought about using one to engage readers (might have to think about that in the future!).

  8. Fascinating idea, Steve. I’m likely a bit of a rarity here–I don’t do crossword puzzles. My wife used to when we received the paper edition of the newspaper (now it’s digital). She loves puzzles of all sorts, and inspired me to get into jigsaw puzzling when we were in lockdown in the spring of 2020, and now we’ve probably done forty since.

    The idea of making a crossword available on a blog is intriguing. I’ll be curious to learn if anyone here tries that.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Thanks, Dale. Full disclosure. I haven’t done a crossword for over forty years. My wife’s obsession with them gave me the idea for this post. She also likes to do jig-saw puzzles. I could get into crosswords. I’m not interested in jigsaws.

      When I looked at some of the free online crosswords, I noticed that has a daily word feature, that they can even email you daily – a vocabulary builder. That’s of more interest to me.

      When you build that crossword for your blog, let me know, and we’ll have you come do a post here on TKZ. Tell us the ins and outs of the process.

      Hope your weekend is filled with puzzles and solutions.

  9. I love crossword puzzles. I usually do the NY Times Sunday puzzle each week. I’m in awe of the people who make up those puzzles — some of the clues are ingenious. I’ve never used a crossword puzzle in my books, but since my stories are mysteries (i.e., puzzles), I should include one. You gave me a great idea with that partially-completed puzzle! Thanks.

    I learned a good life lesson decades ago when I started doing the NY Times puzzles: Never Give Up. If I just get a few words, I’ll go back later and see something I didn’t see before. It’s like writing — the boys in the basement keep working even if you’re not aware of it. It may take me days to finish the Sunday puzzle, but it’s incredibly satisfying to fill in that last cell.

    • Great analogy, Kay. Crossword puzzle completion like writing – never give up. I see why you are so successful.

      And I can see your next book cover, a NY Times paper opened to the crossword puzzle, with watches and clocks stacked all over the paper.

      I hope you have a good time this weekend.

  10. Becky Clark wrote a 12 book series called “The Crossword Puzzle Mysteries” which featured puzzles, and I recall she had some on her website as well as at the back of each book. “The Crossword Mysteries” TV movies, not from the same source, are now on Amazon Prime.

    I’ve never done crosswords, they just never kept my attention, and I stopped doing Sudoku when my software app died with a new Apple OS update. But Solitaire. I play easily 25 games a day.

    • Thanks, Marilynn, for letting us know about the Crossword Puzzle Mysteries, and the Crossword Mysteries TV mysteries. I’ll check them out.

      I don’t think I could get into either Sudoku or Solitaire. I guess the world would be a boring place if we all had the same interests.

      Thanks for the info on the books and movies. Have a solitarily good weekend.

      • Solitaire seems to be the game of choice for many of my writer friends, too. It’s requires a short time period and gives you the satisfaction of finishing and a victory with that spurt of adrenaline and emotion. This is the exact opposite of being a professional writer.

  11. I do them every day. The Will Shortz crosswords are the best — I love the puzzles inside the puzzles.

    Don’t see how anyone who’s a lover of language wouldn’t do them. You also pick up a ton of trivia while beefing up your vocabulary.

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Mike. I’ll check out the Will Shortz crosswords. The puzzles inside the puzzles sounds intriguing. And improve vocabulary while we learn more trivia. I agree, we should all be using this tool.


  12. Do you do any crossword puzzles? Aye-aye in German, 6 letters.
    Why do you do them? Tilting provocation? 9 letters.
    Which ones do you like best? Crafty in shoes? 6 letters.
    Have you ever thought of using crossword puzzles in your blogs to engage readers? Yep’s negation, 4 letters.

    I love puzzles and have patented two of them. My website is I am Ozwynne. For a 26 piece puzzle, the ozcanvexus puzzle can be nasty. There are about two dozen different shapes that can be completed. Doing them all might take a week.

    My favorites are the cryptic crosswords, which I solve using a ball-point pen, whilst standing on a bowling ball. I abhor puzzles involving pop culture. I recommend seeing the movie, “Wordplay,” featuring Will Shortz.

    • I also recommend the movie “Wordplay.”

      And forgive me for a little self-promotion: Will Shortz endorsed my first novel, “The Watch on the Fencepost.” A snippet of his endorsement is on the homepage of my website at

    • Impressive, J. I’ll have to check out that movie, since both you and Kay have recommended it.

      Be careful, standing on that bowling ball. Have a safe weekend.

  13. When my publisher got notified about a review going up from someone we’d approved for an ARC on NetGalley, I wanted to do something to “thank them” for that early review so I found a site that did crosswords for you at no charge, devised one with clues they would know from having read the book and sent it via email as a “thank you” for the review. Don’t know how many people actually did it but I thought it was a fun follow-up and out of the ordinary. You could also hand it out at launch parties or use it as a teaser for signing up for your newsletter list. Doesn’t even have to be your book – could be well-known books in your genre

    • Thanks for your comments, Maggie.

      I like your ideas for using a crossword as a thank you for early reviews, as a customized gift at launch parties, or as a teaser to increase newsletter sign ups. All great ideas.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation and giving us some great ideas.

    • That reminds me I have a sneaky 2-D maze puzzle that can be emailed for promo purposes. I call it the Deja Vu puzzle, because people trying to solve it often say, “Hey, I’ve been here before.”

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