My First USA Today Crossword

In today's USA Today newspaper, if you look on page 4D, you might find a familiar name...ME!! It's my first USA Today crossword and I'm very excited to have it published. The USA Today having one of the highest daily circulations in the country, it means that there are people in hotels, airports, and Starbucks all over the country that might be cursing my name and that makes me smile. Just kidding. I like to think either that they stop and appreciate the puzzle and maybe even glance at my name, or in the very least, think it no better or worse than the other puzzles they've done and that it sufficiently filled their time.

[Spoiler Alert] About this puzzle in particular, my theme idea started out somewhat different than what made it to the page. I proposed "DROP THE BALL", as in screwing something up but the editor liked "DROPPED BALL" better. While I think it is a less common phrase which makes the theme slightly less strong, I'm definitely not the one with years experience putting puzzles out to the world on such a huge scale, so I was definitely inclined to defer. In addition to the theme change, there were the wealth of cluing changes (that even make it hard for me to complete my own puzzle!) As I work more with an editor, I get more in tune with their style. Luckily, I think this USA Today relationship will be one where I get that chance! I've gone another puzzle in the pipes and submitting another one today!

As with all my puzzles so far, I've framed this for inclusion on my Wall of Puzzles* which keeps on growing! Does that mean someday I'll have to stop framing every puzzle? Or I could just buy a bigger house. We'll have to see when it gets to that point. Stay tuned!

While I always encourage you to go out and support the media that supports crossword creators, I know that isn't always possible. So here's a PDF copy of the puzzle (also available at
Thursday September 21 2017File under: crosswords

Toggle Comments (8)comment?
on Fri 22nd Sep, 2017 12:59 am EDT Andrew said:
So awesome! Congrats!
on Tue 26th Sep, 2017 05:28 pm EDT Horge said:
Very nice! Though I wonder if USA Today and other newspapers actually reach out to rising stars of the crossword circuit, like yourself, not just for their clever puzzles, but also in order to make sure at least one person is actually buying a copy of the paper?
on Tue 26th Sep, 2017 05:37 pm EDT Wren said:
Horge, I bought 2!!
on Thu 05th Oct, 2017 08:14 pm EDT Jule said:
Is available in .puz format?
on Thu 05th Oct, 2017 08:20 pm EDT Wren said:
I looked all around at and couldn't find any link to download the .puz. You can, however, play it online via their web app. Just go to above link and use calendar to navigate to Sept 21, 2017.
on Sun 08th Oct, 2017 12:33 am EDT Jpeg said:
Peg here, of JPEG. Met Jule on Friday and he steered us (Jim and Peg) to your blog. We enjoyed this puzzle, nice mixture of current and well seasoned cluing and answers. Just don't ever use the term "oner" and we'll be back for more.
on Sun 08th Oct, 2017 12:50 am EDT Jpeg said:
Peg, again. I'm with you, Wren, regarding the theme. I understand the editor preferring "dropped ball" but "drop the ball" wins the chuckle factor easily. Nice theme, with nothing forced to make it work. We love doing puzzles, but have never constructed, so it's easy to be a critic. 🗑
on Mon 09th Oct, 2017 07:52 pm EDT Wren said:
I finally found a .puz of the puzzle. Click here!

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