December 26, 2020

Puzzling Escapes Haunted House Corrections


I'm absolutely thrilled with the number of Puzzling Escapes books that people picked up this holiday season! I've also had some astute puzzlers point out errors in The Terrifying Haunted House on Mystery Lane. Although these typos have been corrected, some people received the early version of the book. First of all, my sincerest apologies for not sussing out these mistakes before I brought the book to print. Here are the two corrections that have been made.

1. In the introduction, the book instructs the reader to try looking up the answer 123 with the keyword latest. The keyword for this example should be ratty.

2. The piano puzzle with the keyword steer points to the wrong keyword. I did need to rework the puzzle a little to make it work, so I've reproduced the updated puzzle below. If you haven't played through Haunted House, feel free to try the puzzle here!

Piano


KEYWORD: STEER

Almost immediately, Bang gravitates toward the piano. “Wow, this thing is old,” he exclaims. “I wonder if it still works.” You suspect not since the cabinet is all banged up and every bit of wood appears to be swollen and warped from water damage.

“Doesn’t matter,” you comment. “It’s locked.” The fallboard is down hiding the keys, and it doesn’t budge when you try to lift it. Instead of having a keyhole, there’s a set of three dials to input a code.

“Let’s try to open it,” Bang says.


Hint (Click to Reveal)


“All we’ve got to go on is this piece of music,” you say.

“Right,” Bang says, “but look—it has three notes and the combo has three dials. I bet each note gives us a number. In fact...” He grabs the paper to get a closer look. “The notes are B, G, and F. B is the second letter, G is the seventh, and F is the sixth. Let’s try it!”

You move the dials until the code two- seven-six is displayed and then try again to lift the fallboard away from the keys. It refuses to budge. “I don’t think that’s the answer.”

“Maybe we need to look at the scale.” He points to the empty space between the clef and the first note. “I’ve got some musical references in my toolbox. They might help us solve this.”


Solution (Click to Reveal)


“Why would you keep this in a toolbox?” you ask as you look through the music notation guide.

“It must have been with some other papers I shoved in there,” Bang says. “I noticed it a while ago, but never actually took it out.”

You find the scale listed on the guide which doesn’t have any flats or sharps. “Looks like our paper is in the key of C.”

“Right, so C is the first note, or tonic. D is the second. E is the third. That must be it! We need the positions of the notes in the scale, not the positions of the letters in the alphabet. Since B is the seventh note in the C scale and G is the fifth note, our code must be seven-five-four.”


Conclusion (Click to Reveal)


You adjust the lock so that the numbers showing matches your answer. This time, when you attempt to lift the fallboard, it begins to rotate back and reveal the yellowed keyboard. The inside looks just as beat up as the outside, and some of the keys are missing or chipped.

With no bench to sit on, Bang crouches a bit and starts playing a tune. You know he enjoys playing classical pieces and jazz, but the cacophony the piano makes sounds like neither. You cover your ears. “Make it stop!”

A sudden knocking sound comes from inside the instrument and he jumps back. Even though some of the strings are still vibrating off-key, you can clearly make out scratching noise from the base of the piano.

“You think there’s an animal in there?” you ask.

“I don’t care what that is, I’m not getting near it again!”

After a minute of quiet, you approach the instrument to get a better look at something taped on the back of the fallboard “What’s this?”

“Looks like a map. I don’t think it’s important.”

“You’re just scared,” you tease. You reach out to grab the map, but another knock startles you. You immediately retract your arm and take a step back. “You know what, I think I can see it just fine from here.”

“Yeah,” he says. “I agree.”


Answer Check (Click to Reveal)


The answer 754 leads to cell Q1. The keyword in Q1 was originally annoying but has been changed to steer to match the puzzle.

December 7, 2020

Tumbling Down the Rabbit Hole: A Gift to my Readers

At the end of 2019, I spent hours poring over the selection of planners at my local bookstore, looking for the perfect one for my needs. I was particularly picky about the monthly and weekly layouts, paper quality, ability to lay flat, durability, etc. attributes which can only be determined by physically examing the thing. Although I quit using my 2020 planner in March, I'm hopeful that a 2021 planner will get more mileage. Since I don't want to spend lots of time in stores or rely on product descriptions on online retailers, I decided to make my own planner.

Initially, I looked for planner layouts I could download and print. Etsy.com is a great place to buy printables, but everything there that I liked was in full color and my laser printer can only handle black. After a while, I realized the only way to get a layout that works well for me was to create my own. Since I do a lot of book formatting (learn more about my formatting services), putting together something both attractive and functional was a breeze. 



I love Alice in Wonderland, so I created a layout inspired by the book. I printed the number of monthly and weekly spreads I wanted and then added the months and days to each page using a red marker.

My planner turned out so well, I decided to share it with you! I hope you enjoy this freebie and have a wonderful holiday!

If you do use this template, I'd love to see it! Just tag me @BethMart07 on Twitter or Instagram.



November 16, 2020

Game Review: Escape the Room The Cursed Dollhouse


Since I wrote a haunted house themed Puzzling Escapes book, I absolutely needed to try The Cursed Dollhouse escape room board game. I’ve already played the previous two Escape the Room board games. Mystery at Stargazer’s Manor was a good start, although the puzzles were too familiar and easy. Secret of Dr. Gravely’s Retreat was much, much harder—mostly because it contained tons of rope puzzles, which I’m terrible at. Even though neither was my favorite escape game, I was willing to give the newest one a fair shot.

The Cursed Dollhouse is a game that has to be played after the younger kids are in bed and curious pets have wandered off to another room because the game has so many fun pieces. In fact, the entire box transforms into a dollhouse. The assembly is quick and straightforward. After just five minutes, we were able to begin playing. The house contains five rooms full of puzzles that players work through, one at a time. The entire game takes at least two hours to finish, but the disjoint rooms provide plenty of stopping points. I appreciate all the cool details in each area and enjoyed solving the varied and challenging puzzles. Some of the puzzles quite subtle—a detail I love in any style of escape room.

A number of people have complained about the price of The Cursed Dollhouse. At $43, it is a little high compared to other at-home escape room experiences. However, I believe the quality components, complex puzzles, and entended gameplay absolutely justify the higher cost. In a lot of escape room board games, several pieces get destroyed as part of the gameplay. However, Escape the Room provides printable replacement components on their website, making the dollhouse replayable. After resetting your dollhouse, you can pass the whole game to another escape room enthusiast!

Or display it on a bookshelf like I have, cause it’s just that cool.

I recommend The Cursed Dollhouse to board game fans and every person who’s ever enjoyed a logic puzzle.

October 12, 2020

New Launch: A Haunted House Puzzling Escapes Book

Since my last book update, my third Puzzling Escapes book launched, I started working on another one, and am ready to launch the new one as well. I figured October would be a good time to release this book, and I hope you like it!

What was supposed to be a simple visit to an old house has turned into a nightmare. As soon as you get inside, the door slams shut behind you, leaving you and your friend Bang trapped. As you struggle to find a way back out, strange things keep happening, and you're pretty sure you saw a ghost. Will you be able to solve all the puzzles to escape the haunted house or will you get trapped forever?

Inspired by escape rooms, Puzzling Escapes locks the reader in a rich and fascinating scenario full of riddles and clues. Grab a pencil and a group of friends—or jump in alone—and try to escape. Solve the wide variety of puzzles in any order, all in one go or in several sittings. If you get stuck, you can ask your friend Bang for a hint or even have him solve the puzzle for you. Everything is contained in this book so there’s no need for a special app or internet connection.