Have you seen me? I’m the lady standing at the magazine rack picking up each puzzle publication and opening it to the masthead page. If I find my name there, I may laugh aloud. If the publication doesn’t list contributors, I may turn to the back and thumb through the solutions looking for my work- and I can usually find it.

When I first started selling crossword puzzles and other word games, I made a point of purchasing each and every issue in which my name appeared. Since I was working a full time job, it wasn’t hard – my sales were sporadic at best.

In those days, I was making crossword puzzles with graph paper, pencil, a dictionary and a lot of erasers. When I felt a puzzle was ready for submission, I blacked in the squares with a felt tip marker and ran through it the typewriter twice – once for numbering and once for inserting the letters. It was time-consuming, but I was making regular sales to Tribune Media Services, and delighting in the fact that I could go to the library at the end of the week and persuade them to let me have the newspapers in which my puzzles appeared. To them, I was the “Crossword Lady”.

Then, thanks to a computer and Kevin McCann’s website,, I purchased “Crossword Compiler” – software that facilitates the construction and submission of puzzles. Through his website, I was able to avail myself of opportunities I never dreamed possible. Suddenly I was being published online almost as often as I was seeing my name in print. And my puzzles were being printed in books as well as magazines!

Today, when I go to the bookstore, I count my success – one magazine at the time. And I laugh all the way home.

Vivian Collins is a regular contributor to Advance For Nurses, Puzzle Planet, Penny Press and Kappa Publications. She has been published in Ranger Rick, Children’s Digest, Albany Magazine, The Everything Crossword Challenge Book and by various syndicates, including the Los Angeles Times and Tribune Media Services.