When I came across a piece of graph paper in 2006, I decided to try making a crossword puzzle, just to see if I could, and the words in Pride and Prejudice came to mind, so I made a crossword based on that beloved Jane Austen book. But what about numbers in the blocks? Another piece of paper, and I added the numbers. But how to put the two–puzzle and clues–together?
I had no intention of making more than one puzzle, but, by the time I retired from work in August 2009, I had gone to the computer for my graphs and learned the basics of graphics. My husband agreed to go to the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) AGM in Philadelphia. We joined the English country dance class for weekly lessons and he grew out his sideburns. My Jane Austen fever began to build.
Puzzle sizes varied from 10 words down with 12 words across or 20 words down by 16 words across. Finally, in December 2010, I set the size for my puzzles at 17 x 17, where it is today. This is also the format size for the scrambles I found myself creating, starting in 2011, with 35 words per scramble. I tried colored blocks for the answers to Emma, but that proved too confusing to view comfortably. Maybe there was a book in all this, but who would publish it? I made inquiries in 2012, but soon saw my puzzles didn’t fit the norm. I was now into Sense and Sensibility.
In April 2013, my Rochester JASNA family shared samples of my puzzles, scrambles and matchings. They were bewildered and polite; revisions were needed. The size of finished puzzles was too small (6×9 like Jane Austen’s Regency World). By spring 2014, they had become 8.5 x 11. Janeite Lisa Brown, who is a document specialist in a publishing company in Rochester and had held my hand over the years, finally said, “Get an editor and an artist.” Enter Ruth Thaler-Carter and Sari Gaby.
In early 2015, I met with Lisa, Ruth and Sari, and laid out my dream: a slipcase with six books, spiralbound, each with a portrait cover, to be presented at the Kentucky AGM in October; to have ads for books in Jane Austen’s Regency World and JASNA News; to be a presenter for a breakout session at the AGM; and to have a space for the books in the AGM emporium.
Sari’s portraits needed framing for the covers (enter Matthew Kominiarek, graphic artist) and I was advised to have a web presence (Adam Keuer, web designer). Printing is by Lisa Brown’s company, of course (Avalon Document Service), and the rest is history. I hope you enjoy working these puzzles, scrambles and matchings as much as I (and my team) have enjoyed creating them.