Puzzle #12 – Let 'Em Know

size: 9x9 (midi)
style: themed
difficulty: 1/5

This midi has everything! High themer density! Fun facts! A revealer! Two-letter entries! Fill-in-the-blanks! Overly verbose clues! Censoring (but not of the naughty words)! Symmetry that kinda looks like diagonal symmetry if you don't think about it too hard!

Also a big thanks to my very first collaborator, whose work can be seen on the cluing of entries 1-D and 2-D! Great stuff!

In all seriousness: This puzzle came together very quickly for me, and I think it wholly represents my philosophy when it comes to crossword puzzles. Maybe some of the fill here isn't perfect, but my biggest goal as a constructor is simply for my solvers to have a good time while solving. For me, that never really translated to facing an ostensibly insurmountable challenge (more power to you if that's what you're after!), but rather just reading clues that make me smile or think about things in new ways, and providing a smooth solve with a theme that should feel like a ribbon wrapped elegantly around a present, which all comes together in the form of a grand bow on top.

So with that, this is probably my easiest (not easiest, as my first few solvers have informed me) puzzle yet, but also the one I'm proudest of. I hope it translates just as well to the solving side.

Puzzle #11 – On a Very Special Crossword... (Mental Health Month puzzle)

size: 15x15
style: themed
difficulty: 3/5

May is Mental Health Month! It's not only a time to recognize the 1 in 5 Americans who suffer from mental illness, but also a time to acknowledge the mental health that 100% of people share and often take for granted. Take some time to address mental illness in your community, your loved ones, and yourself, or start taking steps to think about your own mental hygiene, if you aren't already. 

If you have the means, you can also help out by donating to Mental Health AmericaThe Trevor Project, or any other charity that supports people and communities particularly at risk. The above are simply two of my favorite, but please decide for yourself!

And if you're going out of your way to do crosswords like this in your spare time, I'm going to assume that you're already well on your way to having a good mental hygiene routine! I tried to inject a lot of good vibes into this puzzle, both in the form of touchy-feely sappiness as well as dopey not-taking-itself-too-seriously humor (both of which are extremely effective tools when fighting my own demons, personally). I hope you enjoy!