Lifting the curtain on a Christmas Puzzle, but only a little.

The Prize: (I’ve included links to Amazon for all these, so you can purchase them as well if you’d like for yourself.  They are all quality books, highly recommended.)

The Prize books have started shipping to our winner Christen Catlin today.  I got notice in particular that these three have already shipped and should arrive tomorrow. (Gotta love Prime!)


Emily Dickinson’s poetry.


HG wells H.George. Wells, Tales of space and time.




                                                                                                                                                           David Megill’s The Hidden Life



There are four items left to ship which we’ll get to at the end of this post.

I have this theory about amateur magicians. We tend to fall into me of three camps: the craftsmen, the performers or the storytellers. You may have heard that a good magician never reveals his secrets. By definition I suspect that’s true, but I also know that happens to be easy for two of these types and less so for the third. Here’s how i see it.


The craftsmen are the slight of hand experts, the gadget wizards, who create amazing and flawless illusions. They do the magic for the arts sake. They love the craft behind it. They find more joy In the perfect trick than they do even in the response. These are the ones inclined to do very complicated tricks flawlessly which are impressive but not as fun to watch. These guys are very good at keeping secrets because they understand that they must do so in order to protect the craft.

The performers love to mystify. They are less interested in the art behind the magic, than in the response it brings. These guys appear to the craftsmen to be cheating because they may do tricks that require very little craft at all. The craft is all in the presentation. These guys also keep secrets well because the performance is all about mystifying.

Then there are the storytellers. We love magic because it weaves a story and involves others in that very story. We enjoy the craft and the performance, but only as they build this interactive story. Sometimes we keep our secrets well because to lift the curtain would spoil the story, but then there are the other times.

Sometimes we see a story in the performing of the trick.  Sometimes in our desire to include others in the story we want them in on the trick. We want to erase the distance that comes between our knowledge and theirs.

Don’t get me wrong; this is almost always a bad idea. Usually inviting someone behind the curtain ruins what was a good story to that point.   We love the discovery which magic always brings, but sometimes we take that too far.  We are like the literary jewel thief (I doubt any real ones are like this) who can’t resist inviting others in to see how clever he has been, ultimately losing to the literary detective because of this strange compulsion.

Well, all that is just to say , that puzzles are similar for me. I love the puzzle, but I love the interactivity of it.  I don’t want to stump everyone, or create such a hard puzzle that it is unsolvable.  I want the joy of someone sharing in this interactive story of discovery with me.  This is why I so appreciate the Joshes and Lauries and Stephs others who checked in along the way to let me know they were engaged and playing. It’s why the greatest thrill of the entire time is when I actually receive the victory email in my lonely unused email address. For me the one hundred dollar prize was just a bribe to get people to play with me. 🙂

So that’s why I was delighted that Chrissy chose to share her story with us, to involve us in the discovery.  It’s why I was so delighted to see just how many clues she saw.

But there’s a conflict.  In both magic and puzzles it can spoil them if you answer all the questions.   The moment you explain the trick, or the puzzle, the story is over.  So, that’s why I promise you, that while I will add just a few points to Chrissy’s story, I will leave many of the clues unturned, so that any future discovery may still be yours.

In the interest of blog length,(and a storyteller’s love of flow and suspense)  I’m going to break this into three days to unfold the rest of this story.

So, tomorrow, I will answer Chrissy’s question,  How I chose the author’s  and some of my thinking in creating the story and puzzle itself, and how Lorien became an integral part of the process.

The day after that I will lift the curtain as far as I’m going to with a few leftover clues that Chrissy either missed or neglected to mention.  So between now and then if any of you want to join the story and identify clues you found that haven’t yet been noted, please do so!

The Rest of the Prize.


A.C. Doyle’s The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels (A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Valley of Fear) ships soon.



                                             Oscar Wilde, the complete works ships when he feels good and ready and not a moment sooner.




C.S. “Jack” Lewis’ Box set of the Narnian Chronicles is out of stock and ships as soon as it is back in stock



The Final book in the Prize is A Christmas Puzzle itself, as the book I chose to represent Lorien Megill.  We are only printing one copy of this book, but here is a link to the kindle version, if you don’t still have it for some reason.  I  think it’s a worthwhile read even with the puzzle solved.

See you all tomorrow!


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