NaNo Update From Harriet

 Posted by on November 19, 2011  Children's writing
Nov 192011
 

Jen’s confession: this is a few days old. My buttinsky comments in green.

Yesterday: 7513 words, a new record. Hurrah!

Hi there, you people in the real world!

I had to make a choice between writing my story or writing a journal entry to you. I cannot do both, I am so sorry. Here are different aspects of what I have experienced so far:

—1— Guess what happened on my third day of writing: I started after breakfast and was in a good flow sitting in front of a lap top. As you know already, it feels like my fingers go nearly as fast as my thoughts; I do not look at the keyboard or so much at the written text either. This machine has buttons / keys that are very silent, and I like that. The sound had really annoyed me, I think, and I would have to use earplugs at home.

My keyboard is loud, but it doesn’t bother me. I think of it as the sound of productivity.

This computer has a pad instead of the free mouse with a tail, and it has two buttons to click on just underneath the pad, I do not like it and so I ignore it.

I’m not a fan of touch pads, either, but I use them. Our laptop has one. I miss my old eraser head.

After about 365 words or so, I erased a whole block of words (a paragraph?). I did look for the undo system in the new program I am using, and I did not find it. But I found a “reload” button and the pop up text in English sounded very clever, indeed, so I pressed the ok button.

And guess what: all my text diapered. A-l-l-o-f-i-t-g-o-n-e-!

Oh, no.

Panic alert?

Yes!

No, I just looked at the screen for a while, mumbled some words about bad weather and foggy brains (of mine). Then I shook my shoulders and thought that I just had to write it all over again. I know I lost some very clever statements (hahaha), but I was not angry. It was just very important to start on my story.

Truly, I felt a little nervous for the story to go on telling itself to me in real time, as if the erasing never happened. You know: it would like to continue its path without looking back and wait for me! Scary indeed, but that is the panic alert!

After this, I learned my lesson number 1: to press Ctrl S and SAVE a lot of times, all the time! If I ever want to try to reload something later, I am making sure I have something there to reload, right! Plus make a backup every day!

And the lesson number 2: turn off the mouse-pad-thingy at once! The fingers do dance over it and make silly things appear on the screen. (To English writers: A word with a hyphen or apostrophe counts as 1 word, so take away all the hyphens and apostrophes and write “I will” instead of I’ll to give you two words even if the word professor program protests!)

Conclusion: All I lost was time and energy, not the story.

—2— It is all about The Confusion in the days before it all started and after!

You mention that outlining and plots were not part of NaNoWriMo. But I read the forum blogs to look for what this NaNoWriMo was going to be like. There were the simplest rules of a game to play, just like you said in the blog posts! But this sounded too easy, just like the rule “There is no such thing as a free lunch!” I just had to be sure it was as simple as the nice people in the tiny films told me on the site.

I wanted to understand the forums and learn to find the theme and subject I needed answers too. There was a lot of talking going on in there, and too much was not what I needed to know. Sorry! I am not a lady of small talk when I am at work. And learning something new is work, fun work, but no small talk along the path. (Boring it may be for others nearby, but yes, it is so very time and energy efficient for me.)

I feel the same way. I’m lousy at small talk and get impatient with it. Sometimes, I think that makes me rude, but I am what I am.

I finally found two pieces of advice I thought I should look into (and I gave up all the rest, actually):

“To be prepared or not prepared, that’s the question”

  • From the thread for the newbies in the NaNo forum NaNo for the New and the Insane -A Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo(sm) By Lazette Gifford (100 pages).
  • And from a comment about how to prepare for NaNoWriMo in the Norwegian Forum: Write a Novel, a resource created by Crawford Kilian.

Before reading the files I downloaded, I had a character I would like to write about and something that I knew could happen to her. But I had no idea if this would be enough to cover 50,000 words. I thought that I was to start with almost nothing and during the month build the story bit by bit and get to know all the characters that entered the story as well.

That’s exactly what I do.

But then I read two persons writing tips: You must know your character, and you must have a tiny outline at least before 20 of October.

Pshaw. The only “must” in NaNo is you must write 50,000 words in November to claim you have won.

But it was already October 26th.

Ok, so I just read their advice as fast as I could to understand the good idea they had given very freely and enthusiastically. I was turning very nervous because they sounded like real professionals and had truly very high hopes for my or other readers’ performance.
I liked what they wrote, and I will use some of their ideas for preparations and writing after November is over, I hope.

As a result of some of their advice, I tried to write down events that could occur to my main character. And I wrote something that could happen to the others that she is close to, and whose lives will affect hers in some way. But I never did get that far as to have a proper outline or a good understanding of my character.

My outline was very much on small pieces of white paper (I will take a picture for you) that fits into v-card pockets in my tiny binder. The main events are written on color cardboard. I jump between these elements and write what occurs to me.

I call that being very prepared. That kind of preparation is perfectly legal under NaNo Rules, but it’s not at all required.

To be honest, this is what I wound up doing that first weekend in November, when I tossed my first attempt and started over. The planning wasn’t extensive, but I did come up with a basic three-act structure and maybe half-a-dozen events that could get me started. It’s a handy strategy, to be sure.

It is demanding to remember what I have written, and I do a trick: I do not read it! I think that it does not matter if it goes a little bit wrong, because it is written in pieces and the pieces can be moved to new places in the story later when I edit it-right? (I need a secretary or a big wall for my papers!!!)

Exactly. I write scene titles on note cards and rearrange them as needed.

I just felt very little prepared, and a very high bit of nervous about this event!

But now you know you were actually very prepared!

Then, some days before NaNo started, I received the book “No plot, no problem” by Chris Baty and the workbook “Ready Set Novel!” written by NaNo authors. They were a lot more playful about the writing process.

I love Chris’s book! I love re-reading Chris’s book. It’s how I discovered NaNoWriMo.

The workbook I have used like this: Open it in a page at random, read the instructions, do it. It has helped me some. I did not bring these books to Paris, and I actually miss them.

—3— What a feeling!

When I signed up in July I could hear my critic from within loud and clear. I did think “Who do you think you are? Who are you to call yourself a writer? You are not even funny! What do you have to tell anyone? Do you even think anyone would read your scribblings?” and the song goes on. A day after all this bad music in my ears, I said “Stop! want to write a story that I like to read! That’s it. I am going to do it. What are you so afraid of? It is not dangerous!”

I have kept the critic under the carpet or outside in the garden. It wants to come back, but not yet. I do not miss it, but I know I need The Voice Of Criticism later!

It is all about love, love, love.
It actually felt like an old- fashioned crush, but it was a crush on a process. My book is about love, yes, but not like a romantic novel, not yet anyway. It has really been a writing-rush being-in-love kind of thing for me.

And then I felt so tired on Monday November 7th. When I returned to reality and got my head out of this happy fog of mine and the first rush felt over and done with. I did not know how to write or what to write or if any of it was going to be good.

The dreaded Week Two. I blew right through that this year. Huh. Wonder of wonders.

The pep talk mail was really helpful: “Don’t Get It Right, Get It Written!” I decided to write about a nice part of the story and think of how to connect it later. And, swish, by some Hermione wand, I was back in my good writing mood again.

Yes! You can figure out how to connect things later. This is exactly my approach. Just wake up and continue or start a new scene; don’t worry about how it will fit with the others.

My second week’s period of feeling down lasted 2 hours. That was it. But it was a good wake up call to remember that I have to take it all in small bits and pieces even if it is fun. No falling-in-love rush lasts forever, and everybody knows how exhausting it is after a while, but oh so fun!

It makes me want to cry! My Main Character experiences something awful!

In my mind, I make up things to happen, fact. I make things up, fact. When I was awake one morning I was thinking of what things could go wrong, looking for some bad events to make the story exiting and give the Character some trouble to deal with. And suddenly a very sad thing happened, and I cried!

What?

It was like a film in my head, and tears ran down from my wet eyes. I could almost not believe it. Me crying over this?

Uh…I cry all the time when I write. And I laugh, and I get angry. I take it as evidence that what I’m writing is good. I think it’s good to feel whatever emotion your character is feeling. So, good job!

This is strange. I must be very exhausted. (And you know what, I was, yes. I had too much work to do in addition to my storytelling!) But it is interesting that things I like to keep safe in the story turn out to be big-time problems.

This is a good thing. Problems are what stories are all about. It’s what keeps them moving. I often have to consciously throw my characters under the bus (idiom alert) because I tend to be too easy on them, and that makes for a dull story.

I have not written that part yet. I will wait until the last week of NaNo. Then I can cry because the fun is going towards an end, right? I need an excuse to cry over my own words. (Turning red!)

Pshaw! Cry away. I grant you permission. And I guarantee you won’t be alone.

On the plane, I wrote another sad event, and I had to look out on the wing of the plane to think of something else and not start to cry. What strange things happen to those who write! And I also laugh when characters do things I think are funny.

Been there, done that. Crying on planes because I’m reading or writing something sad or moving. I can cry at the drop of a hat (idiom alert).

—4—The self-biographical aspects in the writing process.

It puzzles me that this is so much a personal journey, since I am affected emotionally as well as testing my brains on writing and plotting. Maybe it is because it is the first thing I write?

No, ma’am. This is the journey each and every time. I think if a writer were to outgrow this part of the experience, s/he would stop writing. I would say this is the primary reason writers write. I know it’s why I write.

But the scary people in the book also scare me off! I think I have a strong ability to imagine things, yes! Nothing wrong with me then, thank you, just headstrong tale telling going on!

I am also thinking of the things the subconscious is putting in the text: the abilities the people get to have, the things they dare to do, the things they avoid, the good advice that is coming from a person all the time. (I really should listen to some of this advices myself! They are actually clever things. I do not know where I have found it, or maybe I have been stealing it from a help-yourself book somewhere. Sorry then.)

There’s a great quote which I’ll mangle for you now. I think it comes from Mark Twain. It goes something like, “A good writer remembers everything he hears, but forgets where he heard it.”

Are all this abilities things I would like to have for myself? Are these talents I envy? Is this know-how I want to learn? Or is it just fun to make it up and has nothing to do with my wantings and needs, desires and wishes?

Is the oh-so-very-deep theme going on between the lines in this story something that is about me? My character does not belong anywhere, she socializes as well as it gets, but does not belong. She works hard and still gets nowhere on the ambition ladder because it is not for her.

But of course she has a secret. She does not know it yet, but I do! And that has nothing to do with me, or . . . ?

I have to think of this later, but it is very intriguing and vexing at the same time. I do not want to write a biography about myself! But I want to use the things that touch my feelings because it may touch others as well. What do you NaNoWriMo and writing and reading experts think of this?

You sound like a writer to me!

—5— More to learn and more to do.

I really am enjoying this!

Yay!

I will do it again.

Double yay!

I am in a new path in my life. I am determined to learn to write good sentences, exciting paragraphs, and deep stories full of feelings and themes. I need to learn the craft. I will learn by doing it, by writing, and I will read books and look at what I like. I will read books and discuss them, and I will write—did I say that already?

It has been falling in love all over again. And I was so exhausted of all this eagerness, feelings of enthusiasm, and my head just going on about things to do for the characters.

It is all about love love love.

I have one word for you, Harriet: Hurray!

I feel the same way.

Heigh-ho NaNo

 Posted by on November 12, 2011  Children's writing
Nov 122011
 

NaNoWriMo 2011 Word Count TallyThis is my daily word count record. I can’t help it; I look at that, and I think boooooring. There’s something very dull about the just-over-par steady-eddie pace. Part of me wants to fall way behind and then make a heroic comeback. That seems so exciting. But I really hate the stress and panic of being behind—more so in things with substantial consequences, but even in this, I wouldn’t like to be way behind.

Truth be told, though, I don’t think the excitement of making up 20,000 words in two days would be all that fun, whereas I find forcing out 2,000 words every morning very fun. I may be boring, but I’m having a heap of fun being boring. So there.

Day 12: Jen’s Stats

NaNoWriMo Stats, Day 12, Jen

Day 12: Harriet’s Stats

NaNoWriMo, Day 12 stats, Harriet

Harriet’s stats are anything but boring. She’s like a NaNo Olympic star on her way to eight gold medals.

Check out her comment on the last blog post. She’s not only writing her story, she’s acting it out in airports across Europe.

Ziggy, if you make me a NaNo Buddy (I’m shmooo—three Os), I’ll post your stats here.

Ziggy’s our come-from-behind NaNo Hero candidate. She’s writing only on weekends. Yowzer! Talk about a nail-biter. You can read her strategy in the comments on the last post.

I’d ask her to tell us about Word Sprints, but I can’t bear to steal any of her writing time or words. She needs them. Maybe in December. A couple of years ago, I tried participating in some Word Wars in an AOL regional group, but I found that very distracting, and possibly slower than plugging along on my own. It’s hard to believe I wasn’t into into a game or competition, but so it was. I may have another go if I can connect with Ziggy or Harriet out there somewhere.

The NaNo Ride: Cruising At Last

 Posted by on November 7, 2011  Children's writing
Nov 072011
 

If this were a race, I’d put my money on Harriet. I don’t think the dreaded deep, dark forest of Week Two is even going to slow her down. I predict she’ll hit 50,000 words mid-month and keep cruising to an 80,000+-word finish.

I, on the other hand, will putt-putt-putt my way through the month, but I believe I will reach the 50,000-word goal. I wasn’t so sure of that until yesterday.

I usually love Week One, when anything is possible and choices are infinite. Having started several NaNos with nothing more than a character name and an un-popped kernel of an idea, it’s hard to imagine starting with even less, but I did this year. I chose a character name, age, and gender on November first. I gave him what I thought was an interesting personality trait. And then I gave him a problem.

It worked. I wrote 2,000 words, and generated three rough but interesting ideas in the process. On November second, I created a funny sidekick character, wrote another 2,000 words, and came up with a very vague idea of how to reach beyond my usual story strategies to try something completely new and different. I wanted to break out of my usual style of realistic-with-a-touch-of-goofy. I was playing with ghosts. Ghosts! (I don’t do ghosts.)

On November third, I had no clue how to proceed with my vague idea. Worse, it didn’t excite me. I gave my 2,000 words to Harriet and let her story inspire and challenge me.

On November fourth, I wrote 22 words and decided to wait for the weekend to regroup. Four thousand words behind my desired pace isn’t dreadful.

Plot fabric--full of holes.

November fifth. Ah, November fifth. I got up early. I turned on the colorful ceiling lights. I made tea. I lit candles. I sat down at the keyboard, and I journaled. I thought through my fingers.

I didn’t like my story. I didn’t want to just stretch my writing muscles and revel in the wondrous and astonishing NaNo experience; I wanted my NaNo effort to help advance one of my current projects. There’s so much I’m trying to do; it would be nice to add extra juice to something I’m already cooking rather than drizzle a tiny bit into yet another pot. Already, there aren’t enough burners on the stove for all I’ve got brewing. Narrow your focus, consolidate, specialize, niche down—these things are hard for me.

I actually thought about writing 50,000 words of a new needlework class—or three. I have a backlog of classes and projects I hope to create. But, oh, writing a novel is so fun!

How about a needlework novel? Hmm…maybe. I tapped out some ideas in my journal. How about a Stitching for Literacy novel? Hmm…possibly. I cranked out some ideas for this one. How about an Ari’s Garden novel? Hmm…I let my fingers do the thinking and they clicked out several ideas, which led to more ideas, which led to more, which started to get more detailed, and led to characters with names and personality traits, goals, and problems. Ideas, like raindrops on a window, began to move, join together, and flow. (Oh, yeah, it’s NaNo season. Time to write crap.)

I pulled out story structures and plugged the ideas into them: The Hero’s Journey, three acts connected by major turning points. Connections between the plot and subplot boiled up like geysers. Oh, dear dog, I had an outline! Not to mention buckets of enthusiasm.

And so I started writing.

It is November 6th, and I have just over 10,000 words. That’s 2,000 words behind where I’d be if Life and I were perfect, but it’s a fine place to be. In fact, I’d rather be here with the story I’ve got than to be 2,000 words ahead with the story I had.

I can’t wait to see what the NaNo magic does to these ideas.

Jen's NaNoWriMo Word Count GraphAs of Day 7. I finally leap above the steady-as-she-goes gray line after floating aimlessly beneath the line during Week One.

I am so grateful Harriet nudged me into this. And I am so grateful to hang out with and be inspired by all you smart, thoughtful, and creative people here. Thanks, all!

Psst, Ziggy! How’s it going?

NaNoWriMo Update

 Posted by on November 3, 2011  Children's writing, Reading
Nov 032011
 

Harriet, Ziggy, and I are participating in NaNoWriMo, writing 50,000 word novels in the thirty short days of November. Here’s the first progress report from Harriet:

Harriet: Last year Jen told us in either the Bookmarks 101 Class or on the blog at S4L, I do not remember, that she was off to a writing event. I looked it up on the Internet, and just took a quick peek at the site. “No, I cannot do this. This is not for me!” I thought and just closed the site. It took only a minute or so to judge my abilities as a writer of stories!

This summer I was participating in a class over a week in June with the theme “The force of the history of our life.” Pretty huge title, and I thought it was about writing. It was—sort of. It was about finding ways to express oneself if we had the experience of a lack of words. How can we express something without a language? So it was crafting and silence and different challenges, and very few writing exercises.

One of the participants in this class mentioned NaNoWriMo. I used several days to explore the site and the content. And I signed up in July to be a participant this November. How could I decide that I could not do this, when I never have tried it before? Why judge myself this hard?

I decided I had to tell someone about it, so I mailed Jen!

Jen: With the big push to launch Ari’s Garden, I wasn’t planning to participate this year, but I’m a sucker for NaNo. Harriet’s enthusiasm and about two seconds was all it took to change my mind.

Harriet: Then I had to do it, right?

Jen: Darn tootin’!

Harriet: I promised Jen to try to give you some updates on my experience in this project.

First of all I like to say to the S4L group:

I am telling the story to you as I write. I have to have an audience, so I imagine it is this group of readers.

Jen: I’m honored!

Harriet: But without any of the very intelligent critiques and comments on too much stretched out plot, lazy characters, boring events, or any comments at all, really!

Jen: All that comes during re-writes, anyway.

Harriet: In my mind, you are sitting on pillows with a cup of coffee, cocoa, or tea and listening in awe when I tell my story or write it down! Yes, you love my story and cannot wait until the next day to hear more of it!

Jen: Of course we do!

Harriet:
I am writing in Norwegian, to make it easier for me to win the game. But I have to tell you: In Norwegian we glue words together and make longlonglong words out of several of yours. And the word count says ONE when it is like two or three in your language. We do not use the, a, an as much either, so no free rides for Norwegians! Sweat and envy!

Jen: How interesting! But bummer for you.

Harriet: I made an outline of my story as far as I could make up things to happen to my favorite character and the rest of them. But it is difficult to have a big picture and to take care of all the tiny details. I hope it is ok that I forgot some things and just write some more events, turning points, danger and solutions, and tidy up the mishaps after November is finished.

Jen: The advance plotting and outlining is above the call of NaNo duty, but the rest is precisely as it should be. Well done!

Eagle-Dog-Man

Today in Alaska: Eagle taunting dog. Dog scolding eagle. Man taking picture of dog and eagle. Is there a story here?

Word Accountability

Harriet: 1.11.2011: 4502 words.

Jen: Yowzer! I was overjoyed I hit my daily goal of 2,000!

Harriet:
I had one writing session before walking the dogs and one session after lunch. It is fun to start telling the story. At once I got problems with how I can jump between events to make the story more interesting and like the character having flashbacks and show some anxiety for the unknown parts to come… To build a story strategically and technically is pushing my brain a bit, because I just write in a flow of words. It is like writing as fast as I can think, or a bit slower, but my fingers just dance after the thoughts I make. The story develops as I write. And how am I to remember all the details about different people in the story, or the places and all this?

I decided to write what I wanted and needed and what occurred to me when writing. Then I will take a break to write character sheets or notes and draw maps for the traveling, the farms and the castles and Mansions and what not. I do need a secretary, because I do not have time for all this fun stuff. And this evening I am participating on a meeting outdoors by a fire. Love that! And what I can pick up to write about. ;-)

2.11.2011: 6059 words. 39 words / minute.

Jen: Ay chihuahua! 2,000 for me, and I thought I was smokin’.

Harriet:
I am really thrilled that when I write, the characters take charge of my fingers and write in something I did not think of in my tiny outline. And now I have a very nasty person to handle, I really have some problems thinking of how a nasty person behaves. I will not think of this late in the evening, because I may dream of it! And I have stiff upper lip and nose in the air people to handle. And crafts to know all about! What herbs do heal which kind of wounds? How to make food packages with leaves and leather to put under rocks besides the outside a fire? I know nothing about horses, and yet my main character rides one and does all the stuff you need to do for your horse’s well being.

To tell you the truth: I make it up! I have no idea what I am talking about or writing about in detail. And my audience (you!) loves it already.

I do not know if my other blog post will be this detailed, but it is a start, to let you know I work hard and do my best not to let my audience down. And you know I tell you something rare and funny and exciting and pretty and scary in the days ahead. I have to do other chores as well—no, really? Does she have a life? The Shiba Picture Calendar for 2012 is to be made by me among other stuff.

I love this, being a Writing-nut! And I am happy I have such a thrilled audience in my S4L NaNoWriMo Club!

And now I will start on a pink bookmark with some pattern…

Jen: Oooookay. I’ve got me some serious thinking and catching up to do. Harriet has set the bar mighty high. Today, day three, I chalked up alllllllllmooooooost one word on my WriMo novel, but not quite. I do, however, sense a very wordy weekend approaching. Reproaching? Nonono (my nod to Norwegian word-gluing). Definitely approaching, not reproaching. At least, not yet.

NaNoWriMo-a-go-go

 Posted by on October 21, 2011  Children's writing, Needlework
Oct 212011
 

NaNoWriMo 2011 Participant iconIt’s official! Harriet and I are in. We have both accepted the challenge to compose a 50,000-word novel in the thirty days of November. (Harriet will wisely stick with the Norwegian language for this.) But that’s not all, oh no no no. We’re also going to stitch a bookmark or two or three during writing breaks, and we’re going to record it all here. Woot! (The addition of the bookmark-stitching plan diverted my initial plan to post about this event over on the Funk & Weber World blog.)

Now, sometimes I say I’m in, but I don’t really mean it. Like last year. I knew I didn’t have time, but I said I’d give it a shot, and I did so only half-heartedly. I set myself up for failure and succeeded in failing. (Way to go, me!) I didn’t even download a 2010 NaNo badge for the sidebar. The 2011 badge replaced a 2009 badge.

This year, I’m all in. I’ve told Mike I plan to participate. Last night, I made Salmon Nuggets for dinner and froze a second batch for a November meal. I’m going to make and freeze chili. I put lasagna noodles on the shopping list for next Thursday and will make two pans over the weekend. Do you know how many meals we get out of two pans of lasagna? I’m sewing holiday gifts this weekend. All this in preparation for NaNo.

As for what I will write, well, I have no idea, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve never been so prepared as I am now, what with one meal in the freezer.

So, who else out there wants to give NaNo a go-go this year? What—are you afraid? Everybody’s doing it. Chicken, bwak-bawk-bawk!

All right, if you don’t want to write, will you stitch a bookmark? Harriet and I will accept any efforts to stitch bookmarks as acts of solidarity and support, and, believe me, we can use all the support we can get.

We will also gratefully accept casseroles and cookies if you care to deliver them to Alaska and Norway.

Who’s in?

Creative Gifts – Day #21

 Posted by on December 22, 2010  Children's writing
Dec 222010
 

Yesterday, we talked about charitable contributions, gift certificates, and homemade coupons for services and shared time. Today, we’re going dress those up in a whole lot of fun: We’re going to wrap them in a puzzle, the most entertaining gift wrap I know. It’ll be a snap; I’ll show you.

  1. Choose a place where you will hide the gift card or coupons: under a lampshade or lamp, under the recipient’s pillow after she has gotten up, anywhere at all.
  2. Think of a clue describing the place you’ve hidden the gift. If you hid it under a lamp, you might say, “Got any bright ideas where I hid your gift?” If you hid it under a pillow, you might say, “I hid your gift. If you get tired of looking, I suggest you sleep on it.”
  3. Now turn that clue into a puzzle. We’re going to use a letter-substitution code to make a cryptogram. You can write out your own code or use this one:
    Letter substitution codeWhere there’s an A in your clue, you write a D instead. Where there’s a B, you write O. So “GOT ANY BRIGHT IDEAS WHERE I HID YOUR GIFT?” becomes “YKU DTS OEWYMU WJQDX NMQEQ W MWJ SKGE YWCU?”
  4. Write the clue on a piece of paper along with instructions for deciphering the clue

    Each letter in the code represents a different letter of the alphabet. Once you’ve figured out what one letter or word is, use those letters to help decipher other words.

  5. Seal the clue in an envelope, and put it in the recipient’s stocking or under the tree.

Yippee!

In addition to the joy of receiving the gift, the recipient will have the added entertainment of solving a puzzle and hunting the gift down. Never has a gift card been so fun to receive!

Now, if you’re giving this gift to a child, you might want to offer some hints to help solve it. You could, for instance, provide a few letters to get him started, say Q=E, U=T, and Y=G. Maybe point out that the one-letter words are a good place to start solving.

On the other hand, you can add another layer of fun by cutting the piece of paper with the code into pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and putting the pieces in the envelope. Now she’s got to put the pieces together, solve the cryptogram, figure out what the clue means, and find the gift.

Best gift ever!

Got a new bike or car hidden in the garage? Wrap it in a puzzle and put it under the tree. You can wrap anything in a puzzle.

So…who’s game?