Keep to cracking the Code...

# "Honest is easy, fiction is where genius lies..." # - Guster


Ever since being around the age of seven and being bought Stratego for Christmas by my granddad, I've become obsessed with games of all kinds. From Othello to chess, Action Force to Crossbows & Catapults, to Monopoly and Scrabble, and even nowadays to the newer DVD interactive games, I really enjoy pitting my wits against others, even if I don't win half the time... When it comes to my writing, especially on the internet, I've blogged before about how I'm interested in fusing "games" with creative fiction, and have even made some small strides towards that this past year with my "Moon Crater Adventures" (which hasn't been forgotten about, I hasten to add - more exciting news on this in the run-up to Christmas!) I get very excited myself as a reader when given the opportunity to look past the pages of a mere book, beyond its covers, and allowed to discover extra, sometimes hidden, gems... As a writer I only follow my own path (and gut instinct) and what interests myself, and since I enjoy more and more "interactive books" and campaigns which run alongside books to get readers interested, it's now time to properly unveil my own fusion of my "Moon Crater" novel and a game of sorts which readers can get involved in, in the run-up to me getting it out there among agents and the publishing world...

SO, ARE YOU READY TO SOLVE
THE ZIP CODE CHALLENGE?!




"Then, it begins…" (as Robin Hood may have once said) Considering this "puzzle game" has been the idea behind first creating my own Official Website about two years ago, all the way back in mid-2006 The Zip Code Challenge has been a long time coming. Apart from the fact that the domain name I chose, "Find the Missing Reel", relates to the narrative of my "Moon Crater" novel itself, I've always wanted my writing homepage to act as a puzzle and mystery in itself, and after alluding to the fact that I had finally figured out exactly what that main mystery was going to be midway through last year, and having talked about it at other points since becoming a blogger , I'm now ready to bring you this exciting experiment in fiction... (well, it is to me, anyway!)

The thing is, I've never been someone who's just simply blogged for the sake of it, I'm not really the kind of person who likes to hear the sound of his own voice, but training myself as a web-wise writer over the past two years or so has had a definite purpose behind it. As a writer, I see the Net as a brilliant tool for getting readers involved with an author’s material and there’s so much potential for interaction with a story beyond the pages of a finite book… I've said that from the beginning I wanted my main site to be a puzzle, a continuing mystery (and certainly some comments of readers about the homepage so far range from “quite deep” to “very involved”!) and I love to discover and put to use the various web "gadgets", "widgets" and new tech that the big-WWW offers up with each advancing month and year (and it's even better when these are free to use. (For instance, do you like the picture at the beginning of this post? It was created by a clever free engine on the net called "Worldle" - go check it out here for yourself - but don't forget to come back and read the rest of this blog post!) As an impoverished, amateur writer, it's always a concern to be able to bring my words to readers in the most cost-effective way possible!

So, what else is The Zip Code about? Well, you can read all about it in the introduction through the Radio icon on my Official Homepage (the direct link for which is in big lettering below though!), but I can tell you that you’ll learn more of the mysterious “Institute” that I've hinted at from the story in the past. And to that end, I also hope you’ll like my co-guide for The Zip Code, the double agent D.I.A.N.A., er, sorry, I mean "Diana"... And what else? Well, you'll just have to wait and see, but watch out for puzzles in the form of not only numbers, but music, pictures, AND letters...

It's great (if a little frustrating) as a writer to see that you're definitely on the right track with your ideas and plotlines when others in the publishing world come up with similar notions... And some recent real life developments in the global publishing market for kids books does show me that my original brainwave from 2006 must have been a good one... To name just two such big-budget productions (remember, mine is being done on little or no budget whatsoever, so, please, be kind!) The Amanda Project and The 39 Clues definitely show me that I'm hopefully barking up the right future writing tree...In the opening of this post, I quoted some Guster lyrics, (an American band I’m becoming more and more enamored with as I hear more of their brilliant tunes) – well, another of their songs has the line “I am ready to dispose of... every secret code…” and with The Zip Challenge, I’m definitely ready to set every secret code I can think of for readers to solve, so get ready, it’s going to be a fun journey if you’re prepared to take up the challenge...

to begin YOUR code-cracking now
(Good luck in your mission solving
The Zip Code Challenge, Special Agents!)
(Incidentally, as a sort of "starter for ten", if you’re eagle-eyed enough to decipher the mini-Boggle pic puzzle word string in the picture below, you’re well on the way to becoming a Special Agent of the Institute and should have fun solving The Zip Code challenges... (clue: the words string does NOT begin with the word “toes”!)

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