Tag Archive for: Puzzles

Crossword Puzzles or a Writer’s Research


by: Donnell Ann Bell 

“What’s a three-letter word for expert?” my husband asks as
I’m getting a glass of water before returning to my office. I stiffen. Here it
comes, where I should be concentrating on three letters my brain turns into a
giant mushroom cloud and I think of every word under the sun meaning expert, including, adept, proficient, and skillful, sans one with three letters.

“You know,” he says, reading glasses perched on his nose, “Daily mind games keep your mind sharp.”

I swallow some of my water and say, “So you’ve said. See you
later, you know where I’ll be.”

What he doesn’t get is that while he works crosswords, Sudoku
and other puzzles our doctors insist keep our minds sharp, I work mind games
all day long.

I do research!  What’s
more the research I do has to. . . you guessed it . . . fit into a puzzle.  Further, that research has to appear seamless
and relevant, or you can come up with a pacing problem or worse, tell the
reader you’re DOING research.  As a new
writer years ago, my critique partner laid a dreadful accusation at my feet,
saying, “Your research is showing.”

Talk about red-faced. You never ever want your research to
show. It’s akin to a plumber’s crack or a piece of toilet paper clinging to your

Here’s something that puzzles me, and I’ve often asked
myself why I don’t write less complicated books. The only answer I’ve come up
with is I love suspense, police procedure and want to address the topics
that interest me in my writing.  I want to understand
more divergent topics that I normally wouldn’t come across in my ordinary world. I
love thwarting my protagonists, then watching THEM work to outwit the

Wouldn’t it be incredible to hold all the answers in our
heads as we wrote our novels? Certainly would be simpler and imagine the productivity. But then, what fun
would that be? And how would existing knowledge stretch our imaginations? I
love discovering new avenues, further knocking around the plot with Lois Winston, my very smart critique partner, then brainstorming with experts.

One thing my husband and I are fairly equal at is Jeopardy. We watch it most evenings at 6 p.m. What’s a three-letter word for
expert? Try ACE.  Do you love puzzles? Research?
Both? Something else that keeps your
brain churning? I’d love to know.

About the Author:  Donnell Ann Bell gave up her nonfiction career in newspapers
and magazines because she was obsessed with the idea she could write a mystery or
thriller. Years later, she is an award-winning author, including a 2020 Colorado Book Award
finalist for her latest release Black Pearl, a Cold Case Suspense. Donnell’s
other books include Buried Agendas, Betrayed, Deadly Recall and the Past Came
Hunting, all of which have been Amazon bestsellers. Currently she’s submitted
book two of her cold case series to her publisher and is hard at work researching book
three.  www.donnellannbell.com