Happy Friday everyone!
The seeds for this puzzle were BAHAMA MAMA, PROM DRESS, RED DRAGON, and ADDED SUGAR. My original submission had DEFLEA at the bottom left corner, but I wasn't entirely sure Will would approve. As a backup, I included an alternative bottom left corner featuring RIFLES instead of DEFLEA, which you see today. Even though I'm a huge horror fan, RED DRAGON was my second favorite entry; my first was NEAR MISSES. I've gotten a few rejections in the past from Will telling me my puzzle was a "near miss," so once I saw it pop up in Crossfire by pure chance, I knew I had to keep it. I figured it would give submitters a good laugh to see a "near miss" be approved.
On that note, to anyone still trying to get their foot in the door, here's how I improved my odds for an acceptance (especially themeless puzzles); an enormous thanks to Will and the team!
The hardest thing in my opinion for a themeless is featuring enough interesting long fill. Every editor has a different taste. As a scientist, I love LACTIC ACID or MARINE BIOME as answers, but they were rejected in past submissions and specifically pointed out. Additionally, long fill stacks or an area of words will just sound and look right to you. Trust your gut.
Just keep submitting and hope for the best!
Hello, fellow Cruciverbalists!
When I'm not puzzling away, I'm working on my Ph.D. in molecular biology with a focus on breast cancer treatment via nanotechnology. I got started in puzzles because of my grandfather, who always did the Sunday NYT crossword ever since I could remember. For some reason when I was a youngster, it always seemed to me that grinding away at a crossword was such a grown-up thing to do. So I took the challenge and gave the Friday through Sunday puzzles a shot with much computer assistance, since my family had the Fri-Sun package deal for the Times.
After a while, I weaned myself off the computer and can now do most of weekend puzzles solo. I still need my grandfather to help out when I get stuck, which is not too often ;) , since he's way better than me in filling out proper nouns.
But what got me into construction was having a lot of time to kill in the lab. Back in undergrad, I used to work with bacteria, and for several weeks each day, I had to wait 3-4 hours for the bacteria to grow enough to do my experiments. So eventually it dawned on me to attempt making crosswords during this time at the campus library. My first submission was a mother goose theme that I made on graph paper.
Themeless puzzles were especially difficult at the start when I was trying to determine, for instance, the kinds of long phrases that Rich (at the LA Times) and Will liked and the appropriate single to multi-word answer ratio in triple stacks.
Anyway, to make a long story short, on my eighth attempt I got accepted in the LA Times and my tenth or more (I think) the NY Times. So to all you aspiring constructors out there, keep at it, and don't give up!