About Me

Hi! I’m Stella Zawistowski, many-time top-ten finisher at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, winner of Lollapuzzoola 2018, one-and-done Jeopardy! loser, and all-around lover of puzzles and trivia.

I make puzzles (published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsday, The Browser, and others). I edit puzzles: I’m themeless editor at Inkubator, an indie subscription service that publishes women and nonbinary constructors, and I’m a cryptic editor at AVCX+.

You won’t see my byline as often, but I’m a prolific writer of trivia as well, for Geeks Who Drink, Water Cooler Trivia, and others.

Neither crosswords nor trivia has enough women creating content. You should care because both puzzles and trivia are more vibrant and interesting when there’s diversity of content. I don’t mind having to know who Ralph KINER (a baseball player of the 1940s and ’50s) is, but you should have to know who LIZZO is, too.

Oh yeah, and crosswords in general are too easy. I realize this may be a tougher sell to most people than the idea that we need more diversity, but I know there are others out there who love a good challenge as much as I do. I’m also an evangelist for cryptic crosswords, which are both the kind you do when vanilla puzzles have become too easy and also the kind that reward lateral thinking over speed solving.

I created Tough as Nails to be the kind of change I want to see in the world: More female-friendly puzzles and trivia, and more hard puzzles to crack your cranium.