I use this blog as a soap box to preach (ahem... to talk :-) about subjects that interest me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Puzzling Year

This has been a year during which I have concentrated on developing puzzles and writing about it.  I had always been interested more in developing programs to generate and solved numeric puzzles than to solve the puzzles themselves.  Towards the end of 2010, I finally dedicated myself to it.

The first thing I did was to write two programs to generate and solve Sudoku Classic puzzles.  I also added to the Generator the code necessary to create pattern Sudokus (i.e., puzzles in which the initial clues are arranged in a pre-determined way).  Once I was done with Sudoku Classics, I wrote a program to combine five pattern Sudokus into a Samurai Sudoku puzzle.

This work on Sudoku resulted in my first puzzle book, Sudoku Programming, which I self published at the beginning of April.  365 pages of strategy explanations, walk-throughs of "C" code, and examples.

Shortly after that, I thought that a book describing in detail the strategies to solve Sudoku Classic puzzles could be useful, and wrote Sudoku Explained, a booklet of 94 pages that I published at the end of May.  I offered it to the game shop Mind Games, that has since sold some copies.  Forget what they say about eBooks.  In terms of satisfaction, nothing compares with seeing your printed books on the shelves of a physical, old fashion, shop.

I had designed the head with the "Sudoku Brain" for my first book, and had the idea of placing small heads on the two sides of my name.  But, after flipping the small head to place on the right-hand side of the cover, given my perfectionism, I flipped each digit inside the brain back to its original direction, so that they could be read.  The devil is indeed in the details...

At that point, I decided that "C", after all, was less popular than Java, and decided to rewrite all my Sudoku programs in Java. This took a few months during the middle of the year.  After that, it seemed natural to rewrite "Sudoku Programming" for Java.  This time, I chose the more catchy title How to Create Your Own Sudokus with Java.  I contacted some publishers and also some agents, but nobody was interested in publishing it.  They all claimed that it was a very difficult book to place.  As a result, once more, I decided to publish it myself.

But while I was looking for a publisher for my Java book, I started working on another puzzle: CalcuDoku (see several recent articles in this blog).
I developed a program to generate and solve CalcuDokus, but this time I decided not to write books that explain how the programs work.  Similarly to what I had done with Sudokus, I wrote a program to compose CalcuDokus into larger puzzles.

Over the past couple of months, I have published three books of puzzles: 200 Puzzling Hearts, with 200 heart-patterned easy Sudokus, 200 Puzzling Shamrocks, with 200 difficult Sudokus patterned like four-leafed clover, and 100 Double CalcuDokus.


I am currently publishing what is going to be my last puzzle book (at least, that's what I am thinking now): 50 Samurai CalcuDokus.  This book has a larger format because the samurai puzzles are LARGE!

Next year, I will have to work on something else.  I confess that I feel a bit saturated with puzzle programming.  Perhaps, I will resume writing my historical novel Ciao Biondina.  But also a crime novel or an alternate history might inspire me.  We shall see...

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