Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do you do these things?
A. See the tips page. It tells you almost everything you can think of to solve cryptograms. Some people make “cheat sheets” of two- and three-letter words for a quick reference.
Q. How long does it take to solve Decodaquote?
A. Most of us go through a learning curve, and it takes longer until we learn word patterns. Sometimes it’s hard to get started, but if we leave it for a while, we see with a refreshed vision. I like to sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, and hope to come out even. Sometimes the puzzle is done first; sometimes I’m going back for a refill.
Q. Why don’t you give more clues?
A. My system is set up to give only one clue letter, which may or may not be repeated throughout the puzzle. I try to give the most helpful clue I can. If word patterns will reveal the words but the name is difficult, l give a clue letter that helps with the name. Sometimes the name will lend clues to the quote. Finding the right clue letter is often the hardest part of the job because the puzzle should be a challenge. If a puzzle is too easy or too hard, it isn’t fun. Ideally, a clue that reappears is the best, but often I’m stuck. Sometimes people e-mail me asking for another clue. I’ll answer as soon as I see it, but you might not get an answer for several hours.
Q. Where do you get the quotes?
A. I listen to everything I hear and read. A good quote often leaps out at me when I’m in conversation. (That’s where so many of the “previously unfamous” people come from.) I have a huge resource library, and many people send me quotes.
Q. How do you decide which quote to use?
A. Oh, that’s a good one. First of all, I’m limited by the size of the box, so I can only use what will fit. Secondly, it must pass the taste test.
Q. Someone told me you use themes in the newspapers. Do you? What are they?
A. Yes, the rumor is true. On Monday I try to motivate for the work week. In the U.S. we traditionally vote on Tuesdays, so the quotes are historical, political or civic. Wednesday coordinates with the food page, so it has something—even remotely—connected to eating. Thursday is where I put puzzles that generally relate to the human condition. Friday reflects payday, success or the beginning of the weekend. Saturday coordinates with the church pages. I try for humor on Sunday. In addition, I try to time puzzles to events and holidays.
What’s your favorite puzzle tablet?
A. Does a mother have a favorite child? I like them all. Probably each is special to me because of the research I put into the theme puzzles, and the memories created in the process, rather than tablet content. Producing a tablet is a little like giving birth. Some deliveries were easier than others.
Q. Do you have a favorite quotation?
A. That would have to be when I ran an actual marriage proposal.
Q. Are the puzzles the same in the papers as in the 366 puzzle tablets?
A. No, they are different. But once several years ago, the same puzzle appeared on the same day in different codes. I have close to a zillion quotes at my fingertips, and I hope that never happens again.
Q. Why aren’t you in more papers?
A. I’m willing.
Q. Is Patience Rayn a play on words?
A. I always play with words.