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Welcome to Sunday Puzzle Warm-Up, a weekly opportunity to have a little fun and to get your brain in gear for the regular Sunday Puzzle (which now posts on Friday).

This is Mystery Month, during which I'm using these puzzles to spotlight great mysteries. Some of the spotlighted books are well-known classics; others are little-known gems.

This week (and the week before, as well) Mystery Month crossed over into the regular Sunday Puzzle series. If you like mysteries and haven't checked out those diaries yet, you might enjoy visiting them to see if you're familiar with the books spotlighted.

But first, perhaps you'd like to try your hand at solving tonight's puzzle. It's waiting for you right below the orange squiggle.

This is a JulieCrostic.  If you're not familiar with this kind of puzzle, don't panic -- full instructions, and an example of what a completed puzzle looks like, can be found directly below tonight's puzzle.

If you'd like to take part in the group solving, come on down to comments and join in. Or if you'd prefer solving the puzzle on your own (or if you come along late, after the solving party is over) set your comments to SHRINK (so you only see the subject lines rather than the comments); then, if you get stuck, just look for a subject line identifying a comment dealing with one of the clues you'd like help with, expand and read that comment, and you're good to go. (I'll also be checking the comments periodically between now and next week, so if you do have any questions don't hesitate to ask.)

But please, do leave a comment (even if you're stopping by hours, days or weeks after the diary posted) so we can know you've been here.

Tonight's puzzle has 4 rows and 5 answers per row. Here are your clues:

 1. alternatively
 2. decay
 3. of two minds
 4. singer
 5. like Beck's logic, Trump's ethical standards, or Palin's parenting skills
 6. in the direction of
 7. bowler
 8. something 11 promotes
 9. rush
10. sword covering
11. Terry started it
12. mineral
13. additional
14. yard tool
15. in a JulieCrostic it might be:
               1. one
               2. Fleming
               3. primary
               4. Pine Tree state
16. type of broadcasting
17. common contraction
18. made 9
19. Swiss novel
20. the words plain sight often follow this
As promised above, here's an explanation of how JulieCrostics work. (And immediately following the explanation, you'll find an example of what a completed puzzle looks like.)
An Explanation of JulieCrostics

What you do is solve the clues and write the answers in rows. (Tonight's puzzle has 4 rows, 5 answers per row.)

Each word in a row contains all the letters of the previous word, plus one new letter. Write the added letters in the space between the word which doesn't have it and the word which does.

The vertical columns created by the added letters will spell out a word or phrase. The object of the puzzle is to solve all the clues and read the vertical message.

All the rows have the same word-length pattern. If the first answer in one row has 5 letters, then the first answer in all the rows will have 5 letters. For example, here's the answer diagram for last week's puzzle. That was a 5 x 4 puzzle (5 rows, 4 answers per row).
site  M  mites  Y  stymie  P  mistype
pent  I  inept  M  pitmen  O  pimento
dare  S  reads  D  dreads  S  address
tied  S  diets  I  tidies  E  deities
Tree  P  Peter  S  pester  S  presets
The verticals read MISSP  YMDIS  POSES -- which, when properly spaced, spells out Miss Pym Disposes, the title of a wonderfully-written mystery novel by Josephine Tey.

The clues to last week's puzzle included references to Max Allan Collins' mystery series Ms. Tree (Ms. Tree's first name is Michael) and to Peter Yarrow (the Peter of Peter, Paul, and Mary.)

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