Tough as Nails Themeless #54

Yes, it’s true, I get rejections too. Lots of them. (In fact, based on the fact that I have zero accepted puzzles in the hopper at NYT right now, it is very likely that 2022 will pass without me in the NYT. I’m sad about this.)

Today’s puzzle is a reject from somewhere else (I think it will become apparent while you’re solving it that it’s not NYT material), but I still think it’s a fun one and worth your time. Enjoy!

Tough as Nails Themeless #54 – Across Lite

Announcing the Oneth-of-the-Month Mini Cryptic!

As many of you know, I’m an evangelist for cryptic crosswords. I make them for The Browser and The New Yorker and I’ll soon be editing them for the AVCXpansion. And of course there’s #crypticclueaday and the #crypticcluecontest on Twitter.

I’ve been really gratified by how many people have told me that the daily clues on Twitter have helped them understand cryptics a little better–that solving an entire puzzle was too intimidating, but one clue at a time was totally doable, especially with explanations come Friday.

I’ve been thinking for a while that just as mini (5×5) puzzles have brought lots of solvers into the fold in the standard-crossword world, the cryptic world desperately needs minis as a gateway drug, er, way to get more Americans to try this wonderful puzzle type. It is likely that at least one market will do this in the not-too-distant future, but I’m getting impatient. So here’s one from me, with the promise that I’ll do at least one a month this year!

If you’ve never solved a cryptic before, start with my Decrypting the Cryptic posts, which explain the various clue types:

If you’ve never solved a cryptic before and you give this one a try, please do let me know in the comments. If the evangelism works, I want to know about it! There are only six words in this puzzle, so YOU CAN DO IT!

Mini Cryptic #1 – Across Lite

Tough as Nails Themeless #52

To paraphrase Valentina, I was feeling my ’90s fantasy when I seeded this grid.

As we near the end of the year, a few notes: One, I’m so excited to be on the cryptic end of the AVCXpansion! If somehow you visit this blog and haven’t heard of the project, I hope you’ll visit and support! Two, I have another very exciting iron in the fire that I’ll announce just as soon as I’m able to do so. And three, oh yeah, you know how it says “Crosswords and trivia by Stella Zawistowski” at the top of the page? I swear, I do trivia. I just don’t get a byline most of the time. If you’re looking for someone to write you some questions, I’m damn good at it, just sayin’.

Tough as Nails Themeless #52 – Across Lite

Tough as Nails Themeless #51

This one might not actually be as hard as some of the others? I clued it for NYT, but they said no and I decided to bring this one to the light of day now rather than trying to shop it around to other markets. I think it’s a good puz, even if it didn’t catch the NYT team’s eye!

Tough as Nails Themeless #51 – Across Lite