Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Wrap Up Word Search

Figure out the word list from the clues below, then find the words in the grid.
The remaining letters will spell out a famous quote and speaker from 2013.

·         M. Night Shyamalan/Smith Family bomb
·         Anthony Wiener’s alter ego
·         Manti Te’O was a victim of it
·         Google thumb-sized gizmo that actually works the way it’s supposed to
·         Dance craze of 2013
·         Superhero bomb
·         Yahoo! CEO
·         Twerking singer of “We Can’t Stop”
·         Baby born to Kim and Kanye
·         Magic crime thriller
·         Will Farrell character
·         Rebecca Black’s sequel
·         SyFy 2013 movie
·         Online black market that was shut down in 2013
·         Message service
·         Texas State Senator who filibustered an anti-abortion bill
·         Edward Snowden, famously

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things to Look Forward to in 2014

There's so much to look forward to in 2014, this week's puzzle is extra large. Happy New Year!


  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, January 3 to see the answer grid.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Check out my Tumblr makeover!

Thanks to StearsDaughter, my Tumblr blog looks amazing!


Friday, December 20, 2013

StearsWords Volume 3: The 100th Anniversary Collection

The modern crossword puzzle turns 100 years old on December 21, 2013, and StearsWords has the perfect way to celebrate: with a collection of 100 themed crossword puzzles for only $1.00.

The collection features 85 daily-size (15x15) and 15 Sunday-size (21x21) previously unpublished crossword puzzles.

It's my gift to the crossword community. But don't buy more than one; StearsWords puzzles are not copyrighted, so share them with your friends!


Did you know that members of Team StearsWords are eligible to receive this collection for free? Join the team now! Send me an email, and get free weekly crossword puzzles and more.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Crossword Card

The Christmas spirit is still strong within me. This week, an actual Christmas card with a crossword puzzle. There's a message in the puzzle, which makes it perfect for printing and sending to your favorite puzzle fan(s). As usual, it's copyright-free, so share it as much as you want. It prints double-sided on one page; fold it in half to make it a card. Scroll to the end of the page to see the holiday message.




Saturday, December 14, 2013

Easiest Contest Ever almost over!

The Easiest Contest Ever ends tonight at midnight. Tomorrow morning, I'll announce the five lucky winners, who will each receive a signed copy of "StearsWords: Volume 1." Winners will be chosen randomly from whoever sends me an email.

It really is that easy. Send an email to robinstears@gmail.com, tell me why you like crosswords, or what you like about crosswords, or why you want a free crossword puzzle book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The "Whatever Crosses My Mind" Part

Since I started StearsWords over a year ago, I've been hearing quite a bit of advice from just about everyone.

"You should put ads on your site."

No, I shouldn't. I hate ads. Everyone hates ads. I will never put ads on my site.

"You should put more pictures on your site."

No, I shouldn't. Pictures take more time to load than text. My site is deliberately very plain, without fancy-schmancy formatting and time-wasting .gifs. You want sizzle? Go to a Disney website. You want steak? My site has well-done crossword puzzles, and that's all.

"You should blog every day."

No, I shouldn't. I don't have that much to say, and I believe, if you don't have anything to say, you shouldn't say it.

"You should charge more for your puzzles."

No, I shouldn't. The ones I put on my site, and the ones in my digital collections, don't take me very long to make. I spend much more time on the ones I send to newspapers and magazines. I don't agonize over every word and clue in my StearsWords puzzles the way I do when I'm really getting paid. They're great puzzles, entertaining and fun, but I'm the first to admit, they're not my best work. They're more like my better work. The exceptions are, of course, the Trivia Challenge crosswords. Those take days sometimes, but they're a labor of love, and so I consider it time well-wasted.

"You should copyright your puzzles."

No, I shouldn't. Why bother? If someone wants to print out or share a digital file with their friends, who cares? More fun for everyone, I say. I certainly can't stop anyone, and I don't want to make a bunch of lawyers rich, so what's the point? They're perfectly good puzzles, but not a one of them is suitable for publication elsewhere, so I don't have to worry about anyone claiming to have constructed one of them and trying to sell it. Nobody would buy them. Copyright is a waste of time.

"You should get a real website."

No, I shouldn't. "Real" websites cost money, and Google Sites is free. Why should I pay for something I can get for free?

"You should advertise more."

No, I shouldn't. I hate ads. Everyone hates ads.

Thank you for all your wonderful advice. I'm sure it would work for someone else, but it doesn't work for me.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Card

Merry Crosswords! I love to tell jokes about Christmas, so does that make me a Christmas card? This week's puzzle features some truly horrible holiday puns. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, December 13 for the answer grid.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Leftovers

This week's puzzle has a Thanksgiving theme: What to do with leftover turkey. It's the reason I cooked a 15-pound turkey for only two people. Coming up: Turkey Hash, Turkey Salad and gallons of Turkey Soup. This week's puzzle features some of the things you can make with leftover turkey. As a bonus, the .pdf version has links to the Food Network's recipes so you can use those leftovers to make something delicious.


  • Click here to see the answer grid.  *Check back on Friday, December 6 for the answer grid.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Easiest Contest Ever

There's at least one person on your holiday shopping list who loves crossword puzzles--maybe it's you. StearsWords would like to help you this holiday season. If you, or someone you know, loves crossword puzzles, send me an email. Let me know why crossword puzzles are great, and I'll choose five of them at random to send a signed copy of StearsWords: Volume 1. 

Easiest contest ever, right?

Step 1: Compose an email explaining why you love crosswords, or why you think someone you love deserves a free crossword puzzle book.

Step 2: Send it to robinstears@gmail.com

Step 3: Wait until December 15 to see if you're a winner.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The biggest movie this week is the "Hunger Games" sequel, "Catching Fire." My daughter loved those books, and after hearing her talk about them, I just had to check them out myself. Unlike the time I checked out the "Twilight" series, the "Hunger Games" books were a pleasant surprise. Yes, they're Young Adult books, but that doesn't mean they're not enjoyable.
This week's featured StearsWords crossword puzzle is a salute to dystopian futures in literature. So, hide your books and grab a dose of Soma. There are so many dystopian futures, this week's puzzle is extra large.
Next week: A new contest! I'm doing some Christmas shopping for a few lucky fans. If you know someone who would love a copy of "StearsWords: Volume 1," all you (or someone you know) has to do is send me an email telling me why your friend or family member deserves a free crossword puzzle book. The contest starts on Thanksgiving, and ends on December 15.
On December 21, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the modern crossword puzzle, I will offer 100 themed crossword puzzles for only $1. But Team StearsWords members will receive it free! Tell your friends. Everyone loves freebies.

Meanwhile, there's a puzzle to be solved! May the odds be ever in your favor...

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, November 29 for the answer grid.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

PlayStation 4 Games

As much as I love movies and TV and music and comic books, I also love video games. When I hear, "Turn on the AC," I think, "Cool! We're going to play Assassin's Creed!" The first time I heard about DKNY, my first thought was, "Donkey Kong in New York?"
One of my friends runs a Sunday morning TV show that features an "Oh WOW Moment," and I always hope it will have something to do with World of Warcraft, but it's always about the children's museum.
This week's puzzle features some of the PlayStation games for the newest member of the family, the PS4.


  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, November 22 for the answer grid.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Thor" Trivia Challenge

Spoiler alert! This week's puzzle features one of my favorite superheroes: Thor. "Thor: The Dark World" premieres this weekend, and your favorite supernerd (that's me) will be there. I'll never choose between Marvel and DC Comics because I love them both. There's enough room for all the superheroes and superheroines, and plenty of bad guys to keep them all busy. But I'll be the first one to admit that Stan Lee is my absolute favorite comics writer of all time. Any chance I get to throw a little honor and glory his way, I'll take it.

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, November 15 for the answer grid.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stephen King Trivia Challenge

Is it still Halloween? There are still Halloween parties going on this weekend, so this week's featured StearsWords crossword puzzle is a tribute to the King of Horror: Stephen King.

What kind of poster did Andy Dufresne have in his cell? Where did Gage and Church come back to life? What was The Kid's favorite beer? What did "Gard" Gardner do for a living?
Stephen King has been giving me the heebie-jeebies since high school, and I'm looking forward to reading his latest novel, Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining.

My first foray into the mind of Stephen King was Carrie, which I read in high school. Next up, Salem's Lot made it impossible for me to visit my friends after dark. But my all-time favorite Stephen King book is The Stand, and it was the first book in which I ever found a mistake. In the first edition, Harold Lauder leaves a chocolate thumbprint in Frannie's diary after eating a Payday candy bar. As someone who's allergic to chocolate, I'm well aware that Paydays are not chocolate; they are peanuts and caramel, and one of the few candy bars I can actually eat. 

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, November 8 for the answer grid.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Horror Movie Trivia Challenge

This week's puzzle is a real scream...
It's a salute to horror movies, and it's loaded with killer trivia. Personally, I'm not a fan of horror movies...real life is horrible enough, in my opinion. But I'm surrounded by horror fans, and I know a lot of people who will love this crossword trivia challenge. Be sure to share it with the horror movie trivia fans in your life, the ones who know who played the Thing in "The Thing from Another World," and who directed "I Spit on Your Grave," and the ones who can quote Burt Gummer from "Tremors," and know the color of Carrie's prom dress. You know the type.

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, November 1 for the answer grid.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Baseball Trivia Challenge

I love this time of year. It gives me a chance to sit at home and watch the World Series...kinda like the Cleveland Indians. Well, at least they tried. They even installed a new pitching machine...but it beat them 4-1.
This week's featured StearsWords crossword puzzle is a Baseball Trivia Challenge, in honor of the World Series. It starts on Wednesday, October 23, and ends on Halloween.
Happy solving!

Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, October 25 for the answer grid.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Supernatural" Trivia Challenge

This week, I'm granting a special request. Someone asked me to make a "Supernatural" trivia puzzle.
 In the spirit of Halloween, this seems like a good time for it.

"Supernatural" is a TV show on The CW. From what I can see, it's like "Charmed," except the stars are guys instead of women. But I've learned that if you say that to a "Supernatural" fan, they'll tell you differently, over and over and in great detail.

Happy solving!

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, October 18 for the answer grid.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Orleans Cuisine

"Top Chef" is one of my favorite TV shows. I'm not sure if that's because I'm such a fan of cooking, because I love competitions, or just because I like to eat (probably that last one). I've watched all the "Top Chef" competitions, including the "Top Chef Masters," but my favorite so far has been "Top Chef: Just Desserts." I blame my sweet tooth for that.

This season's "Top Chef" takes place in New Orleans, and this week's StearsWords crossword puzzle is a salute to New Orleans cuisine. Many years ago, I spent a few days in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and fell in love with the music, the architecture, and most of all, the food.
It doesn't matter if you're a fan of the show, although I do urge you to give it a try if you're not. Good food is good food, and this crossword has some yummy good food in it. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Happy solving!

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, October 11 for the answer grid.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Breaking Bad" Trivia Spectacular Answers

Spoiler alert! If you haven't watched the whole series, don't look at this grid.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Breaking Bad" Trivia Spectacular

Sunday will mark the series finale of "Breaking Bad," and since it's such a successful show with a huge fan base, it definitely needs its own Spectacular puzzle.
Here's something you can't do with traditional puzzles. While you're watching the "Breaking Bad" series finale at your "Breaking Bad" party, make copies for everyone, or share them on your mobile devices, and race to see who can finish the puzzle first. Only true "Breaking Bad" fans will be able to finish it at all.

Confession time: I don't actually watch this show. I've heard it's very good, and many of my friends love it. I've read all the episode synopses, though, and I agree that it's interesting, intelligent, and unpredictable, and like many of my favorite shows, it's highly quotable. In fact, it's exactly the kind of show I would normally watch, but I just can't. My best friend has been struggling with cancer for two years, and it just hits a little too close to home for me. However, once she's cured, I plan to binge-watch the whole series with her.

Just like every other StearsWords puzzle, this one is free to share, so if you know a fan who might enjoy a "Breaking Bad" trivia spectacular puzzle, pass it along. 

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, October 4 for the answer grid.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Salute to Netflix" Answers

Netflix scored gold at the 2013 Emmy Awards. The only thing that would make me happier is seasons 2-10 of "Firefly."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Salute to Netflix

It all started so innocently...I just needed a day off. But one day turned into two, and the next thing you know, I'm binge-watching "Continuum" on Netflix and surrounded by empty Kit-Kat wrappers, and contemplating never going back to work again. Ever.

So this week's StearsWords puzzle is a "Salute to Netflix," the number one reason why I don't get things done. It's a procrastinator's dream-come-true.
Just a warning...there's so much great stuff on Netflix that this week's puzzle is bigger than usual.

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, September 27 for the answer grid.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Musical Mashup

It's back to basics this week, with a bit of word play. "Musical Mashups" celebrates the current music trend of mashing together two different songs to create something amazing.

Never heard of mashups? Check out this YouTube video of PSY/Ghostbusters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82LCKBdjywQ
I hope you enjoy this week's musical tribute. Happy solving!

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, September 20, for the answer grid.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Game of Thrones" Trivia Spectacular

"Winter is coming..." and so is this week's StearsWords crossword puzzle! It's a "Game of Thrones" Crossword Spectacular, based on both the George RR Martin books and the award-winning HBO series.
It's a fight to the death, between you and all that "Game of Thrones" trivia.
Happy solving!

Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, September 13 for the answer grid.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why My Crossword Puzzle Ebooks are So Damn Inexpensive

If you were buying a traditional crossword puzzle book, you'd pay around $3-5 for about a hundred puzzles. Based on my own experience, I'm guessing a big chunk of that goes to pay the printer, and that's fair, s/he deserves to get paid for the time and materials invested.

But there are disadvantages to the traditional crossword puzzle book: You and your friends can't compare solving times; in fact, you can't even solve the same puzzle at the same time unless you buy more than one book. You can only solve a puzzle once, unless you erase all the pencil markings and start over, but you'll see the shadow of the letters, you know you will. You can't share a puzzle you really enjoyed, unless you want to erase all the pencil markings and make a copy of it. Once you've solved all the puzzles, your puzzle book is nothing more than a highly-organized pile of trash.

Digital collections, or puzzle ebooks, are more flexible; you can compare solving times, you can work on the same puzzle at the same time your friends do, you can solve the same puzzle over and over, you can share them with your friends, and once you've solved all the puzzles, the only trash can it'll end up in is a virtual one.

When I publish a "StearsWords" puzzle ebook, the only person who gets paid is me. I create the puzzles, I edit them, I publish them, and I promote them. They're mine, and I can charge whatever I want for them.

I deliberately choose $3 for a hundred themeless and $5 for fifty themed puzzles because that's just about what you'd pay for a traditional crossword puzzle book. I'm not greedy, and I think it's a fair price, based on the number of hours I put in, creating, editing, publishing and promoting them. Interested in the math? Read on...otherwise, skip the next two paragraphs.

A daily size crossword puzzle (15x15) with a theme usually takes me a few hours, sometimes a day, depending on the theme entries; the more Scrabble-y type letters (Q, Z, J, W, etc.), the longer it takes to find fill words to cross them. But a 15x15 themeless puzzle only takes me about an hour, and most of that time is spent writing the clues.

A Sunday size puzzle (21x21) can take anywhere from a day to a week, again, depending on the theme entries, and because there are more words (~142, compared to ~78 for a 15x15), there are more clues to write. The big puzzles always have a theme, and because they're meant to be a little more difficult, I struggle with the theme entries, fill words, and clues a little more.

Now, considering that I want to make about $15 an hour (I think that's fair, it's a specialized field), I'd have to sell about 500 copies of a crossword puzzle ebook to hit my break-even point. But, since crossword puzzles have no shelf life, they never expire, and I can continue to sell the older collections while I'm making up new ones. Forever.

That's the plan, anyway.

Now, go buy one of my crossword puzzle ebooks.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

StearsWords Volume 2: "Themeless Love"

StearsWords: Volume 2 (Themeless Love) is a digital collection of themeless crossword puzzles. It includes 100 themeless crosswords, jam-packed with all the trivia and word play solvers have come to expect from StearsWords puzzles. Since I don't need to have it printed or shipped, I can offer this entire collection for the incredibly low price of $3.00. You won't find a more enjoyable, affordable solving experience anywhere. Your copy of StearsWords: Volume 2 (Themeless Love) will be delivered to your email inbox as a .zip folder containing 100 all-new crossword puzzles in both .puz and .pdf formats.

Themeless Love

Did I promise an affordable crossword collection or what?

StearsWords: Volume 2 (Themeless Love) goes on sale September 1. You will love this all-digital collection of 100 themeless puzzles, suitable for printing and solving (.pdf files) or solving interactively on your mobile device (.puz files).

Themeless puzzles don't take very long to make. Since there's no theme, I don't have to spend a whole day (or a few hours) researching the entries, selecting the ones that fit the grid symmetrically, and looking for words that fill the grid without resorting to using words like APER.

This week's featured StearsWords puzzle is a themeless puzzles from my new collection.

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, September 6 for the answer grid.

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Common Bonds" Answers

This must have been a difficult puzzle. No winners this week. Here's the answer grid, and the list of theme entries:

Meryl Streep
Russell Crowe
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kevin Costner
Richard Gere

What was the "Common Bond"? All of them are top-earning actors who have never made a movie sequel.

My apologies to Denzel Washington, Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Jamie Foxx, who didn't fit the grid; also to Mark Wahlberg, who won't be on the list much longer, thanks to "Ted 2" and "Transformers 4."

Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson are both in the "Hunger Games" sequel "Catching Fire," which is scheduled for release in November.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Common Bonds" Crossword Hint

This must be one tough puzzle. No winners yet! Here's a hint:

Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson fit the category now, but won't in November.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Common Bonds

There are two things you need to know about this week's StearsWords crossword puzzle:

First, it's a day early. Usually, I post the weekly puzzle on Monday and send it to Team StearsWords on Sunday. But starting this week, I'm going to post the crossword on Sunday, and send it to my fans on Friday. This gives them two extra days to solve!

Second, this week's puzzle is another contest! There are five theme entries, and all five have something in common. Figure out what that "something" is, and you could win a signed copy of StearsWords: Volume 1 and a Starbucks gift card.

If you think you know the answer, send me an email. I'll select a random winner from the correct entries.

  • Click here to see the answer grid. *Check back on Friday, August 30 for the answer grid.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Announcing Big Changes at StearsWords

Usually, I post my StearsWords crossword puzzles on Monday, and I send Team StearsWords the same puzzle on Sunday, so they get it a day early.

Starting this week, I'm going to post my weekly StearsWords puzzle on Sunday, but that's good news for Team StearsWords. Instead of getting your crosswords a day early, I'm going to send them out on Friday--a full two days early. That includes the crossword puzzle contests, giving Team StearsWords members a distinct advantage.

There's a reason for this. I love Sundays. It's my favorite day. I love getting up early and watching Madonna Chism Pinkard on "Community Connection," followed by Charles Osgood on "CBS: Sunday Morning." It's the only day I get to spend with my family--we're all so busy during the week, but Sundays are family days.

And that's why I'd rather post my puzzles on Sunday, and then spend the rest of the day hanging out with my peeps.

And now for a commercial (skip this part if you want): Don't forget that StearsWords: Volume 1 is now paperless! And since I don't have to print or mail it, I can offer it at a 66% discount. It's better for you, better for me, and better for the planet.

Monday, August 19, 2013

StearsWords Goes Completely Digital

Since I'm a one-woman show, I decide how things are done around here, and I've reached a monumental decision: No More Paper.

Paper crossword puzzles books are fun, but let's be honest: once you've finished the puzzles, they're trash. Isn't there enough trash on the planet? I think so, and that's why I've decided to never publish a paper crossword puzzle collection ever again. Ever. 

However, you can still get your favorite StearsWords crossword puzzles in digital formats. You can still solve them using Across Lite or Crosswords for Android, and you can still print the ones you want.

Order StearsWords: Volume 1 today, and you'll receive a .zip file with a collection of 50 original, never-before-published crossword puzzles in both .puz and .pdf format.
And since I don't have to print or mail an actual book, I can offer it for a lot less: $5.00 gets you the entire collection!

It's good for you, it's good for me, and it's good for the whole planet.

Just doin' my civic duty.


Now for Something Completely Different

Some of my favorite crossword constructors like to post free puzzles on their websites, too.

Patrick Blindauer (whose name is an anagram for Brain Duel) posts a free monthly puzzle.

Matt Gaffney posts a new themeless puzzle every day, and hosts a weekly crossword puzzle contest.

Brendan Emmet Quigley, one of the most prolific constructors of all time, posts a themeless puzzle on Mondays and a themed puzzle on Thursdays.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well crosswords appear all over the North America in alternative weeklies, and on his website.

And Trip Payne posts them whenever the hell he feels like it, because he's Trip Payne, and he can do that.
Now, normally I wouldn't do a themeless puzzle. But this week I did.
And you know, I just had to put a StearsWords spin on it, so you'll find quite a bit more word play than you would find in a regular themeless puzzle. The majority of the clues end with a question mark, which solvers know indicates a bit of linguistic gymnastics.

  • Click here to see the answer grid.  *Check back on Friday, August 23 for the answer grid.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why My Puzzles Are Free To Share

If you've ever downloaded or printed a StearsWords crossword puzzle, you may have noticed there's no copyright warning on them. It's intentional.

I want people to share my crosswords. If you like them, send copies to your friends. If you really like them, collect them in a .zip file and send copies of all them to all of your friends. And if they like them, they're welcome to send copies to all their friends, too. That's what free is all about.

In a month or so, I'll start putting collections on my website that anyone can buy, and I guarantee they'll be affordable. I'll also guarantee that you won't see a copyright warning on any of them, and that I'll never legally pursue anyone for sharing them. You can safely buy any StearsWords crossword puzzle collection and forward them to every single person you know, and I hope you will.

If you have a business, and you see a StearsWords crossword puzzle you think might help you promote it, feel free to print it out and share it with your customers, or include it in your newsletter or mass emails. If you're a member of a fan club, and you want to share one of my famous Crossword Spectacular puzzles, go for it! If you liked it, chances are, they'll like it, too. If you publish any kind of  newspaper or newsletter, and you want to add a crossword puzzle to it, feel free to use one of mine.

Oh, sure, you could download them and then try to sell them, but I think you're better than that.

I trust you.

Happy solving!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Flag for All Seasons

In honor of the USPS and postal workers everywhere, this week’s featured StearsWords crossword puzzle pays tribute to the latest philatelic delight: “A Flag for All Seasons Stamps.”

Illustrated by Laura Stutzman, the new Forever stamps feature “Old Glory” as viewed from below, flying from a pole at full staff against a background of trees, evoking the four seasons.

  • Click here to see the answer grid. Check back on Friday, August 16 for the answer grid.