Happy New Year! This is my last post on this blog...

So I’m a few days late on this (what else is new?), but I figured I’d write a post about this past year. Because this year, possibly more than any other year thus far, was extremely important to my writing, my career, and my resolve.

Also, I thought it would be a good way to close out this blog.

I’ve been talking about moving over to WordPress and I’m finally doing it. It’s bittersweet, to say the least—I really love this blog, but am excited to get away from the constraints of LiveJournal and get better exposure—and after many hours of frustration last night, I finally settled on a theme for my new one. (Hint—it’s totally simple and generic. I don’t know the first thing about designing layouts and banners, and the ~three hours of wanting to throw my brand new laptop out the window last night only served to support that).

So  yeah. Before I go off on a tangent, I’ll start on what this year was like for me. Then at the end I’ll point you to my new blog, which isn’t fully finished yet, but where I’ll be doing a post on my resolutions for this upcoming year.

I didn’t make any writing goals last year, like many of my new Twitter buddies (especially Skye Fairwin—she’s a wordbeast!) did. Instead, I entered the year as I did every other since discovering my love for writing in junior high: making a few shallow resolutions about my health and my outlook on life, and halfheartedly suggesting to myself that I write more over the next 365 days. I say “suggesting” rather than “promising” because I don’t think I ever really believed I’d do much, and “more” was never concretely defined. Vague resolutions have never worked for me and never will.

Yet somehow, despite my lack of resolutions or some kind of guidelines for the year, this was my most productive year yet. To keep this post short, I’ll gloss over the year in bullet points, in chronological order.

This year, I…

  • Finally made the move from the local newspaper I was working at part-time to a full-time role as a Copy Editor. I started by doing 3 days per week at the paper and 2 at the new job, then started working 5 days per week hourly, then was promoted to a salaried employee—all within six months! If there was any one resolution I was serious about back in January (when I landed the new gig part-time), it was that I was going to finally transition into full-time work… and I did it!

  • Started writing numerous blog posts per week at my new job, all of which I have saved on my work computer. I can see a dramatic improvement in my writing from that very first post to my most recent ones, which makes me all kinds of giddy.

  • Joined in on my first #WriteClub, which is where the magic started to happen. After reading an article on Samantha Shannon in August in which she was touted as the next J.K. Rowling at only 21, I was so down on myself as a writer (and eventually inspired to make changes!) that I broke out my unfinished fantasy manuscript. I was determined, but probably would have fallen off again if it hadn’t been for this awesome Twitter initiative. It was under that one simple hashtag that I met Taylor Eaton, a fellow writer. Through Taylor’s tweets about the #WriteChain Challenge I met Skye—and those two ladies have been more inspiring to me than any bestselling novelist yet. Soon, I found myself participating in #WriteClub and other sprints almost every week, pounding out as much as 5k in a short nighttime writing session. And, as always, the act of writing regularly reminded me of why I love to write so much… but for the first time ever, I was motivated to continue.

  • Around September, started blogging more regularly on this LiveJournal. I went from updating once every few months to almost daily, sometimes twice per day, updating on my latest personal writing achievement or new word count record. It was initially inspired by reading months worth of posts on Sarah J. Maas’s blog, which I highly recommend reading from the beginning if you’re an aspiring published author; her posts really reflect the passion, fear, pain, and joy that come with writing and the road to publication, and can be extremely helpful to those who are looking for insight into the process.

  • Began a Write Chain. I only lasted a week—anyone who knows me will know how difficult I still find it to write daily—but it was rewarding nonetheless to understand just how much work writing really is. It also brought me closer to Skye, who runs the Write Chain Challenge, and Taylor, who was participating and with whom I was exchanging lengthy emails at this point. When I realized forging an unbroken Write Chain might be a bit of a jump from my old habits (or lack thereof), I started up my own weekly tallies on this blog, in which I counted the number of words I wrote during the week and divvied them up into Fiction, Blogging, and Misc.

  • At this point, I was having so much fun sprinting with everyone that an idea started to form. What if I, and a few of my regular sprinting friends, started a blog? So I reached out to Skye and Taylor in late September, and that’s when The Sprint Shack was formed. The blog was launched on October 4th and honestly, I couldn’t have picked two more amazing people to found it with.  I was nervous at first, and the whole project was a bit haphazard due to the rush to launch in time for October pre-NaNoWriMo events (and, once again, my craptastic WordPress skills), but it’s been so incredibly rewarding and fun to co-manage the Shack. It’s kept me accountable, inspired, motivated, and connected. And those are four things that I’ve always found vital to a writer’s process!

  • Then… NaNoWriMo. I’ve already posted so many times on NaNo, so I won’t make this post even longer by repeating myself. But long story short, I reached 50k on a brand new project. Something I’ve been unable to do since 2008.

  • And, finally, I wrote a short story this December! It’s a literary zombie piece called The Spread, and while I know “literary zombie” may seem like an oxymoron, I swear it’s not just gratuitous blood and gore. It’s about ~3,300 words long and one of my first New Year’s Resolutions is to submit it to every relevant literary publication I can find. I WILL see this piece published! I was really excited to write it and it holds a special place in my heart, being an idea I’ve been kicking around for upwards of 10 years. And I guess after the craze of NaNoWriMo, I could only take so much of a break during December without writing something.

So… that’s it. As always, much longer than I anticipated or intended. Sorry!

With that, I’m going to close out this blog. It’s been an amazing, crazy year in many respects… although a year that really changed a lot for me. I’m excited to start anew this year and carry over my enthusiasm into 2014, and starting my new blog seems to be a great way to do that.

Thank you all so much for reading and for sticking around this long, if you have. If not, no worries… I know this has been an essay. ;)
You can find my new blog here. It’s been real, LiveJournal!

I've received the Versatile Blogger Award!

As I said in yesterday's post, the lovely Taylor Eaton has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!

I'm really honored to receive this award. As the name suggests, the typical nominee is a blogger who posts a variety of writing on several different kinds of blogs. Taylor and I both contribute to Sprint Shack as well as our own personal blogs, and just recently, I celebrated my "anniversary" with the blog Paper Droids. I guess you can throw in the blog I contribute to for work, too, and that makes me a pretty versatile blogger!

I never expected to be receiving awards for this, so I'm pretty excited. :)

As per the rules, I have to post 7 things about me and nominate 15 blogs. However, I've been so busy lately I've barely had time to write for the blogs I contribute to, let alone read any. So I'm going to post the 7 things about me now and nominate other blogs as I come across them.

  1. I'm currently watching Archer on my dual computer screen, because a) I'm a geek and need a dual screen for gaming/writing and b) this is an absolutely hilarious show.

  2. I'm a Cancer and have a tattoo of the sign on my left wrist.

  3. I just cut off 10 inches of hair to donate to Locks of Love. I'm freaking out a bit at how short it is, but at least it's for a good cause!

  4. At any given time, I have a billion things on my to-do list. This is both the cause and effect of my awful combination of perfectionism and chronic procastination

  5. If my last post was no indication, I have no clue what my next writing project will be

  6. However, thanks to Taylor's inspiring post on Skye Fairwin's blog, I'm starting a new Write Chain... and so I have to figure it out pretty soon!

  7. I have a pet Bearded Dragon who I'm convinced is the cutest thing in the world, and have a hard time understanding how people can dislike reptiles.

And that's about it... off to tackle more stuff on that to-do list! Yikes...

Post-NaNo Ramblings, A Writing Resolution, & An Award!

Man, I’ve been super lazy.

I meant to post right after NaNoWriMo finished, but as you all can imagine (and are probably experiencing!), I’m STILL recovering from some serious NaNoWriMo PTSD nearly a month later. And yes… I won!!!


That’s not to say I haven’t been writing since crossing 50k, though—I’ve been posting over at The Sprint Shack, writing more than ever at work, and recently penned a ~3.5k word short story that I’ve been mulling over for literally years! I’m really excited about it and have been asking a few writer and non-writer friends for their opinions; I plan on submitting it soon to a few publications but, if I can’t get it published, I’ll be sure to post it for all to see. I did take a short hiatus from Paper Droids, but will be returning to them for the New Year to continue posting on all kinds of geeky goodness. I’ve also been pitching to Inked and the Gazette but haven’t had much luck.

Other than that, I’ve just been swept up in the madness that is the holidays. I never understood why my parents and their generation were always so frazzled during the holidays… until this year, while working my first real full-time job. Jeez, do they sneak up on you while you’re trying to balance a 9 to 5, or what?

Anyway, I’m currently participating in Skye Fairwin’s awesome Tales & Tea Party over on The Sprint Shack’s Twitter… I figured this would be a good way to get back into the Twitter community (I’ve been sooo absent—sorry guys!) and get writing more regularly again. If you haven’t checked the party out yet, do so! We sip tea and nibble on snacks and all write together, and it’s a lot of fun.

Besides all that… there isn’t much to update on. This month has flown even faster than November did, and I can honestly say I’m DIZZY from it. I miss NaNoWriMo, but I’m enjoying the writing break. I definitely need periodic breaks to let the creativity recharge. I’m pretty terrified at the idea of either returning to Fleeting (my fantasy novel) or editing Underground (my NaNo YA novel), though. The first has always been difficult for me, hence it taking a few years to get where it is (about  2/3 of the way through), and Underground… turned out much differently than I expected. I know straying from your plans is common for NaNoWriMo, if not the point of it, but I’m not too sure how I’m feeling about it yet. It’s also not complete—I had to basically water the plot down to fit into 50k and have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and it needs some fleshing out and reworking to even be a full first draft.

So… basically, I have a lot of projects hanging over my head and not much energy to tackle them. But I’m determined, because one of my three New Year’s resolutions this year is to finally get a work of fiction published. I know that’s pretty ambitious within a year for my still unfinished novels, though, so I’m focusing on fixing up my short story and submitting it to as many publications as I have to until it’s published somewhere. It’s my first short story written in literally years, but it came out much better than I anticipated! And with all the stellar critique I received from Taylor Eaton, I’m sure it’ll be in tip top shape before I attempt any submissions. ;)

Lastly… I’m very proud and excited to announce that I’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award from my good friend/writing buddy/Sprint Shack co-founder Taylor Eaton! The award requires that I post seven things about me and nominate other bloggers, but since this post is already crazy long for someone who claimed to have not much to update on, I’ll be posting tomorrow with all the details. Until then, look at how pretty and exciting it is!:

And that’s about it! I know I mentioned switching over from LiveJournal to WordPress after November, and that’s still something I’m considering—I’m just trying to figure out how I want to do so. Whether I’ll make it a regular personal blog like this one, or a blog where I post samples of my work, or what have you. I’ll update here when I make a decision and get working on it.

How about all of you? How did your NaNoWriMos go? What are your writing resolutions for the New Year? Let me know… I love to hear from all of you!

An Ode to Skye Fairwin

If you read Skye Fairwin’s post on The Sprint Shack about staying motivated during NaNoWriMo, you’ll know that this year has brought an abundance of #NaNoWagers to the Twittersphere. I’m a part of at least one major one (I think I may have signed up for a few, and totally forgot about them…) with my co-founders.

However, I did strike up a deal with Skye herself that’s not so much a wager since it’s one-sided, but more of a motivational reward: if she caught up on her word count last week, I’d tout her feat across the internet and sing her praises forever. Because she was pretty behind for a while due to schoolwork, and I know that if I were that far behind I’d never catch up.

Well, she did it—actually, she caught up mostly in one day. Take a look:

That's 10,000 words in one day. I don't think I've ever written that much, and if I have, it must have been in some kind of trance. She’s still not quite caught up, but I have no doubt she will.

So here’s to my awesome Sprint Shack co-founder and writing buddy, Skye Fairwin! Congrats, Skye, and keep writing! Now you have to make the 50k. This post is hanging over your head. ;)
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Mid-NaNo Update

So, obviously, I’ve been pretty absent due to NaNoWriMo. I’m about halfway through the 50k goal (as of now, a tiny bit behind), but I plan on pushing quite a bit ahead tonight since I’ll be attending my first Queens write-in of this year. I’ve officially surpassed my word count from my last two NaNoWriMos, so even if I don’t win (WHICH I WILL!), I’ll be pretty happy to come in my own personal second place!

NaNo began really smoothly. My decision to start something new really got me inspired, and within the first three days or so I was soaring past the 10k mark. As usual, as I’ve mentioned several times before, I’ve had the habit of writing in large bursts and then falling off it for a few days… so if you were to check out my stats on my NaNoWriMo profile, you’d likely see big jumps in the graph, then a plateau, then a big jump again, etc.

But I really want to get ahead and STAY ahead, because I think this WIP will take a bit more than 50k… and I want the first draft complete by December 1st so that a) I can get one of those nifty CreateSpace copies of my first draft, and b) Idon’t have yet another unfinished project lying around. Ideally, I’d like to finish this draft of Underground this month and put it away while I work on a few other projects (Fleeting, some new ideas that have been swimming around for some time now), and then return to it for revisions in a few months.

In the meantime, I’ve been posting some blogs on Sprint Shack that I stockpiled before NaNoWriMo, writing my usual blogs for work, and contributing the occasional blog to Paper Droids—although I decided to take a short hiatus from taking on more deadlines like those for Paper Droids until NaNoWriMo is over. I’m kind of in the middle of a “stress overhaul”—i.e., really weeding a lot of the unnecessary stress out of my life one commitment at a time—and therefore trying to keep the deadlines and responsibilities down to a minimum for a while. Especially while I’m writing a 50k novel in one month.

Other than that, there isn’t much to report, other than that I think I’m pretty sold on making the switch from LiveJournal to Wordpress. The sole fact that I can subscribe to/be subscribed to from other blogs is really the selling point here; I feel like, as long as I’m on LiveJournal, I’ll have few to no regular readers as my blogs aren’t getting much exposure. Plus, WordPress is just much easier to work with. I do plan on keeping this site up once I do make the switch, though, and linking to it from my new blog once it’s up!

Anyway, that’s pretty much it, other than that NaNoWriMo has been so inspiring that I have some new ideas floating around. I’m thinking of starting my own fiction site similar to Taylor Eaton’s Little Write Lies, only it won’t necessarily be flash fiction—it’ll be super short stories, but maybe a bit longer than flash/micro fiction… short shorts? I don’t know. But I have an idea for a unique theme—I’m thinking of posting short stories that are inspired by specific songs, and embedding a YouTube video/lyrics to that song with the story. I used to write “songfics,” in which I’d integrate lyrics from a song into the story itself, because music is such a big inspiration for me—so this just feels natural. In fact, Underground is LITTERED with existing band names/songs/lyrics, and while I know I’ll eventually have to edit all of them out/change them to original material, all that music is so integral to the story that I’m keeping it all in the first draft. That way I can really get the feel right and keep it moving, and not get bogged down by coming up with names and lyrics and such.

So … yeah. That’s my incredibly disorganized, random update. Can you tell I’m NaNo-ing?

How are you all doing on your NaNoWriMo feats? Let me know!

Some Criticism on NaNo Critics

When I think of NaNoWriMo critics, I generally imagine them to be sitting in front of an old-school typewriter, or perhaps a piece of parchment with quill in hand, their lips upturned with a scowl of self-important concentration (if this is your process, totally cool, but I can’t help but giggle a little). They’re probably the ones who think that there hasn’t been a decent work of literature written since War and Peace and that the fantasy genre is hardly literature at all. Well, you know what? They kind of annoy me.

Pretentious sites like NaNoWriMo No Mo pretend to tout strict formulaic rules to getting published or assume that getting published is your only goal in writing, and that NaNoWriMo is a hindrance to such things—when, in fact, there are a) many ways to publish your work and b) many reasons to want to write outside of getting published. But to keep this rant brief and focused, I’m going to focus specifically on the arguments that “NaNoWriMo No Mo” makes, starting with the statement that “NaNoWriMo is a good, one-time goal to get you used to putting down words on a regular basis. Writing regularly is a tough habit to develop, and NaNo can help you get into that groove. Unfortunately, that’s all it can do and people expect more.”

NaNoWriMo helped me discover myself as a writer. Yes, that’s primarily because it forced me to get down more words in one solitary month of 2008 than I’d possibly ever written (creatively) in my life, but also because it really opened my eyes to the process of writing a novel. It inspired me, pushed me to succeed, and really put enough pressure on me to bring out some great writing that I never thought myself capable of. Maybe 90% of my first NaNo novel is crap, but guess what? It got a lot of bad writing out of my system, taught me some serious lessons in novel writing, and helped me produce that other 10%--the sentences, ideas, characters that will always stick with me and will someday be published, either in their original form or in other works. Yeah, I’d say it’s done a lot more for me than teach me to get off my ass and write (although that was a valuable lesson as well).

Next up: “Don’t do NaNoWriMo more than once because ‘people use NaNo as their yearly motivational pat on the back, and don’t really use it to change their behavior.’” I beg to differ. I’ve experienced growing dedication to my writing since my first NaNoWriMo (and second, and third) and although I’ve had some pretty stagnant months in-between NaNos, I’ve progressively become more and more strict with myself about writing. And, in many cases, I don’t have to be strict with myself because NaNoWriMo taught me how to enjoy writing. It also introduced me to a pretty huge community of writers that are fantastic motivators and inspirational figures. And the more often I participate in NaNo, the more likely I am to keep myself writing and editing in the months in-between.

I think I get frustrated with this kind of criticism because I really don’t understand what the critics think WriMos are doing. Do they believe that writers (serious ones—there are a few that take on NaNo just for fun and write ridiculous stuff, and that’s okay too) are just slapping a bunch of crap onto a page to meet the 50k goal? If we were just trying to get a little badge next to our username, we could just type 50k of jibberish—or wait for NaNo to be over and check off that year on our profile. Maybe we word pad a bit, and maybe we are less inhibited during the challenge, but that’s the point—we’re allowing our experimental sides to poke through for once, for our self-aggrandizing walls to drop, and for our ultimately creative selves to take the reign.

We know what we want our stories to be, and if we choose, we can refine them at the end to reflect that finished product. But long-term sprints like NaNo help us break out of that mold a little for just a month, to see what our work could possibly be if we didn’t confine it to such stringent outlines and rules and publishing ideals. And, in my experience, my stories have only flourished when I’ve allowed them this room, and suffered when I try to impose some “vision” on them that they’re just not meant to adapt to.

I’m not going to pretend that NaNoWriMo is a great way to write a publishable work, but no first draft is publishable. NaNo IS a great way to get that first draft down, to get all those ideas fleshed out, before going back and polishing it all back up. If you rely on NaNo every year to pump out a publishable novel in one month and then have an 11-month break, you’re doing it wrong. But guess what, critics? We’re not that dense.

Rawr. Rant over. Can't wait to get started on my fourth (!!!!) NaNoWriMo tonight!

NaNoWriMo 2013!

Well, how embarrassing. I just realized that the Group Guest Post I had up since October 22 had a typo: it was labeled Group Gues Post. How did I miss that? (And more importantly, how did none of you notice it and tell me! Rawr!)

Anyway, NaNoWriMo begins for me in two and a half hours... I plan on trying to stay up for it, although I have to work at 9 AM tomorrow. Even if I just get a few hundred words done, I'll feel good knowing I'm getting a head start.

I've finally decided on what I'm doing. I'm still pantsing it, having nothing concretely planned up to this very minute, but it's settled: I'll be giving Fleeting a break and working on Underground. As much as I wanted to finish my fantasy novel, I know I can't force it, and I've been really feeling like the story is suffering lately from my determination to just hammer it out. I think it's something that will take quite a bit more time than I've allowed it, and so I'm going to let it percolate until I get this new novel out of my system. After all, NaNoWriMo is all about breaking your writing rules, isn't it!?

This NaNo will be a November of firsts for me: first time I've NaNo-ed two years consecutively (I participated in 2008, 2010, and 2012), the first NaNo I'll be working on a single novel from start to finish (in 2008 I wrote 50k of one I had already been about 2 chapters into, and the other two years, I chipped away at Fleeting with 25k and 20k, respectively), and the first NaNo I'll be doing with lots of support and fellow NaNo-ers!

I am so, so lucky to have met lots of awesome people via Twitter these past few months, especially Skye and Taylor. Doing so really opened me up to a huge community that only took only a little digging to find, and as a result, I've started Sprint Shack, made tons of new connections in the writing world, and have finally made writing a regular part of my life. Though I haven't been diligent enough to write (creatively) every single day--something many super dedicated writers on Twitter are doing to forge their WriteChains--I feel that I'm getting there. And now, this year, I'll be hopefully completing my second NaNo and evening out that 1:2 win:loss score of mine. I know Taylor, Skye, and all the other fantastic writers I've met will be there to kick me into shape if I start to flounder.

So whether I hit the sack now or stay up a few more hours, I know I'm in good hands. I have a feeling that this upcoming month is going to be a ton of fun, a little scary, and beyond inspiring.

Come on, guys. Let's do this!
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Group Guest Post!: How We Write

So I've been thinking a lot about writing processes lately, and as I said a few weeks ago, I've discovered that I really write in spurts. There are seasons, types of weather, certain times of day, etc. that really get my creative juices flowing, and others that put my creativity through an incorrigible dry spell. It's something I'm still trying to figure out--maybe if I get to know these creative "moods" better, I can build a more sustainable writing routine--and so I decided to ask around and see how others wrote.

Here are some awesome writers I follow on Twitter, including my two awesome Sprint Shack co-founders, explaining their writing "cycles!"


Skye Fairwin


Like anything that involves creativity, my writing has highs and lows. Because I track my word count progress religiously, it’s easy for me to spot when they are and plan my writing schedule around them. One thing I’ve noticed: my natural flow of creativity is erratic when viewed on a day-to-day basis, but forms a regular cycle over a longer timespan.

For example, the first week of the month tends to be my slowest for writing, so I usually dedicate that to editing and/or brainstorming instead. My output picks up in the second week and I start to work on the ideas formed in the previous week. By the third week, my word count output peaks, then tails away towards the end of the month. And so the cycle begins again. Such is my writing life.


Taylor Eaton


I would like to say that I'm disciplined in writing at a certain time every day. Or that I have a schedule that I stick to. “Oh, I’m going to be writing tonight,” I constantly tell my non-writer friends, as though I actually plan out my writing routine.
Of course I try to write in the mornings. And I try to write after work. But the reality is that I write when I can, whether I’m inspired to do so or not. I write while eating lunch. I type out notes on my phone while out with friends. I put down my toothbrush mid-brush because I thought of an excellent phrase. And I do this every day, this obsessive scribbling.

I wish I could create the perfect conditions in which to write every day. If only all it took was a nice cup of tea, a quiet room, and an hour to kill. But my life is a busy one and I like to be on the move. So my writing moves with me. In fact, I think that all the moving - and living - is what inspires my creativity. So, I suppose the best way to describe my creative cycle would be to say: I write anywhere and everywhere, all the time.


Alanna Cartier


My writing cycle teeter-totters between short bursts of actual writing, and lots and lots of reading. It has as much to do with what I am reading as it does with what I am planning to write. When I'm reading something that is beautifully written and engaging it sparks my creativity like nothing else, and on those days I can write quite a lot, if I can pull myself away from the book. Most of what is my first chapter right now, I wrote in bursts over two days and now I have been spending the last few weeks honing it to create a solid foundation for the rest of the novel. When it comes to my writing I'm a planner, so if I don't have a solid foundation my writing grinds to a halt.

I tend to be more productive early in the morning or late at night, when my inner editor is too sleepy to intervene. Most importantly for my writing cycle are the small windows of time I leave myself to write; lunch breaks, after work before my partner gets home. That is when I work best. Having short windows in which to write forces me to monopolize on the little time I have and leaves no time for piddling around on the internet, or habitually checking twitter.

Skye's awesome Sprint Shack banner!

So I've been terrible about updating and totally fell off my word count tracking to boot, but it's all been for a good cause. My new blogging project, Sprint Shack, has taken off swimmingly thanks to all the hard work put in by my co-founders Skye and Taylor! We have a ton of awesome goodies planned for NaNoWriMo, so be sure to stop by.

To get you excited, Skye put together this awesome banner, putting my graphic design skills (or lack thereof) to utter shame:

Sprint Shack banner version 1

Come stop by, especially during the NaNo craze!
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Word Count Totals: Week 5 (I sucked it up)

Okay, I'm sucking up my pride and posting these word counts that, yes, I did just take the time to total up. As of my last post, I said I was going to count this week as a week off, but... well, some words are better than none, right?

So here's my measly Week 5, but hopefully all will get better from here.

Week 5: 5,207
Blogging: 2,452
Creative: 299 (ouch!!)
Email/Misc: 2,456
YTD: 46,676
I'm still stuck on whether I want to keep my LiveJournal going or start a Wordpress... I think I'm leaning toward the latter. After all the work I've been putting into Sprint Shack, though, I don't know if I want to start creating another blog right now!