Brightly-colored letters spell out Tijuana in red, orange, purple, green, blue, yellow and red

Cryptic #1

What’s this? A cryptic!? That’s right—it’s my very first cryptic crossword!

I started this grid back in April and finally finished cluing it last week. Slow and steady was the name of the game, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Just don’t expect another one anytime soon.

Special thanks to joeadultman for his test solve and invaluable advice. Joe makes many wonderful puzzles, including cryptics for The Browser and AVCX and a beautiful tribute to his mom. If you’re reading this you’ve probably already solved them, but if you haven’t, maybe skip mine and do one of Joe’s instead.

Thanks also to Dob and Momes of CrossweirdTV, whom I watched do cryptics for ages before daring to attempt one myself. I never would have solved a cryptic much less made one if not for their stream and the wonderful community around it.

Sorry in advance for any newbie mistakes; Joe probably already warned me about them, so 8-Across. I hope you enjoy—please let me know what you think if you solve it!

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Gray top spinning on a wood table

Fiddle Around (Collab with Norah!)

I’m so excited to share this puzzle, my first collaboration, with the fabulous Norah Sharpe. It came together during a recent Crossweird stream, when someone in chat suggested a bit of merch that led to this theme.

Norah says: “Hi! my first time on Rich’s blog – what an honor!! 💖 This revealer has been on my theme idea list for a bit so when Rich mentioned it in passing, yes of course I immediately dropped “frozen.jpg” in his dms. This one’s got everything, I hope you enjoy it! While this puzzle didn’t quite make the cut for publication, be not worried – we’ll get there. 🙂”

Thanks to Will for the test solve! Norah and Will contributed a puzzle to These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion, which is at 93% of its fundraising goal with 36 days left. Help support abortion access and get a pack of sixteen great puzzles!

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Blue Citi Bike bicycles parked in a row

Themeless #4

Two of my resolutions for this year are to 1) make more puzzles and 2) get better at cluing. This puzzle is my first attempt at both. It’s a 12×12 52-worder to make things easier on myself, and while I don’t think you’ll find any of the clues too tricky, I did my best to make them all fun and interesting.

Thanks to Lila for the test solve and for helping me find the best way to write the clue for 30-Down!

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Themeless #3

January 12, 2023:

I made this puzzle during the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals. It’s 21×11 to accommodate the central spanner, which might look familiar if you’ve followed sports on Twitter.

Due to its shape, this was the first themeless grid I ever designed from scratch. While I don’t love every bit of short fill (*cough* 5-Down *cough*) I was glad to be able to work in three vertical spanners and a number of fun long across entries.

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Themeless #2

January 12, 2023:

This was my second themeless puzzle. Looking back at it I’m still proud of most of the fill, and I love the stacks in the NW and SE corners.

40-Down was a bit of a goof because I of all people forgot how to spell five-time New York Yankees All-Star Bobby’s last name. If I were cluing it again I’d go with the New Jersey county instead.

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Themeless #1

January 12, 2023:

This was my first themeless and just my second 15x puzzle. I chose this grid because I’d started out constructing 7×7 puzzles and it’s essentially a quartet of 7x7s stitched together with a few more 7-letter entries.

With 36 (!) 7-letter slots, it’d be impossible to make them all sizzle, but I was happy with the number of entries I’d enjoy seeing as a solver and that I was able to avoid a lot of junk in the short fill. (Two entries, 1-Across and 42-Down, were ones I’d included in some of my 7x7s.)

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Queen of Tribute Puzzles

January 12, 2023:

I made this puzzle in honor of one of my favorite artists and a certain banger released exactly 10 years before its publication, on September 20, 2011.

This was my first 15×15 crossword. While the theme is simple, I’m proud that I was able to work in four long down entries and keep the fill clean for the most part.

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