LitRecapper: The One Year Anniversary



Joshua Chaplinsky peels his forehead off his desk, his jaundiced skin illuminated by the pale glow of the LitReactor homepage. He glances bleary-eyed at a page-a-day calendar displaying a shirtless picture of James Van Der Beek. The date: October 1st, 2012. He mumbles to himself...

The years like great black oxen tread the world,
And God the herdsman goads them on behind,
And I am broken by their passing feet.

His vision blurs. Fade to black...

Ho-lee shitreactors, people! I can't believe it's been a year. That's longer than most God-sanctioned traditional marriages last these days. You know, it wasn't very long ago that LitReactor was just a gleam in the eye of Dennis Widmyer and a twinge in the pants of Kirk Clawes, but now here we are celebrating our first revolution around the sun. And in that short time span we've done nothing but eat, drink, and man-woman the written word. We've grown in exponential leaps and bounds, thanks to the dedicated family of readers and writers who have nurtured us from day one. You guys are like that annoying couple who make a Facebook post every time their kid farts in the bathtub. Seriously, we love you for it. Keep spreading the disease.


How big is our family, currently? Well, as of the time of this writing, we've had 6,243,927 pageviews from 2,834,384 visitors. We have 7,600+ Facebook likes and 6,300+ Twitter followers. We have over 11,500 registered users on the site who have left over 100,000 comments and earned over 10,300 achievements. No one has earned the coveted Official Critic achievement for accumulating 1,000 workshop points yet, but we've got a couple people closing in. User bryanhowie leads the way with 720 points, with R.Moon riding his ass with 588. Currently rounding out the Top 5 we have voodoo_em, Nick Wilczynski, and everyone's favorite Defender of the People: averydoll. You guys are seriously committed to peer review.

Speaking of the workshop, we've had over 650 story submissions and they've received over 4,650 reviews. That's an average of nearly 7 reviews per submission! I can't think of any better reason to join than that. Unless you have a large family full of brutally honest writers, this is the place to be.

There is also the gigantic resource that is our online Magazine. We've brought you close to 500 exclusive articles, interviews and reviews, covering everything from the craft of writing to new technology to agents and the publishing industry. We've given you author primers, controversial Top 10 lists, and genre deconstructions. That's a lot of content. And that's not even counting our daily dose of literary news.

So what was popular? Glad you asked.

By far-- and I'm talking FAR-- our most popular column has been Jon Gingerich's 20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Makes. It has just over 1,000,000 pageviews! Congrats to Jon on that. It also has a record 197 comments which, unfortunately, descend into nastiness pretty quick. We're talking death threat nasty. People sure do take their grammar seriously. Yeesh.

Rounding out our Top 10 Most Popular Columns:

So basically, if there's anything to take away from this, it's that you guys love grammar, Top 10's, and Meredith. Who knew? (Full disclosure: we did.)

Events, Milestones, and Miscellany

I know it's hard to believe, but there's more to life than just stats. We had a lot of memorable moments in our first year, and Mama LitReactor has been squirreling them away in our baby book for safe keeping. Some highlights:

We scored our first exclusive when James Sallis graciously allowed us to post the synopsis and cover art for Driven, his sequel to Drive. We were also the first to break the story of Jack Daniel's polite cease and desist letter to Broken Piano For President author, Patrick Wensink. Of course, stupid me forgot to put 'Exclusive' in the title of the post. That shit went viral and nobody even credited us. Bastards.

We also got some exclusive writing advice from the one and only Douglas Coupland, in a piece aptly titled, Some Practical Writing Advice From Douglas Coupland. He is one of my favorite authors and a complete mensch, and I can't thank him enough for contributing.

In other fancy firsts, we hosted our First Official LitReactor Meetup in NYC this past July. About 25 people attended, which I consider a stellar turnout for any internet gathering that doesn't involve the trading of sexual favors. Everyone had a blast. For all you West Coasters bitching about being all westerly and shit, you might want to scroll down a bit...

But possibly the coolest thing to happen round these here parts was Scare Us!, our first ever writing challenge. LitReactor is all about celebrating writing and writers, so we decided to host a special event that was open to the public. It was horror themed and it was a resounding success. The amount of time and effort people put into, not only their own writing, but giving thoughtful feedback to others, was pretty inspiring. You can read Jessica Taylor AKA averydoll AKA The Defender of the People's blow-by-blow accounts HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Oh yeah, and jacks_username got a LitReactor tattoo. Bonkers!

As Axl Rose Would Say, Where Do We Go Now?

So what could we possibly do to top LitReactor: Year One? Here's a sneak peak at what's in store:

Unpr!ntable: The LitReactor Podcast: That's right-- a podcast. Cath Murphy, Rob W. Hart and I will be hosting a monthly jaw session in which we attempt to be as witty and erudite as we are on the (web)page (which will probably lead to lots of arguing). We'll be discussing the usual: books, writing, and the industry at large, hopefully with the occasional guest in tow. Maybe we'll even wrangle ourselves a special guest now and then. Will we keep the exclamation point in the title? Only time and SEO will tell. We're looking to have the inaugural episode ready for consumption late October/early November, so keep an ear out.

Webinars: One of the most common requests we get here at the ol' Reactor of Lit is for shorter, more affordable class options. Well, from your lips to our ears-- starting this month we'll be offering our readers the chance to participate in weekend webinars. All the great instruction you've come to expect from our online writing classes in tasty, bite-sized morsels. Don't worry, our regular schedule of awesome classes and instructors isn't going anywhere. In October we have classes on sci-fi/fantasy and writing for television, as well as the return of Craig Clevenger's hugely popular 200 Proof Storytelling.

Wordstock/West Coast Meetup: You've seen it teased on the news page, but all you squeaky West Coast wheels are finally going to get doused in meetup grease. And it's all going down in Portland, during the kickass literary arts festival, Wordstock! It is going to be the nerdiest, educationalest, probably drunkenest good time that meteorologically challenged city has ever seen, so head on over HERE to declare your intentions and get all the details.

T-Shirts!: Another common request we get is for the long awaited LitReactor t-shirt. For months upon months you guys have pestered and pleaded with us to release one. Some of you even offered up your first-born. But we didn't just want to toss our logo on a black shirt. We wanted something inspired. Enter Kevin Tong, who designed this baby:


The shirt will be available at Wordstock as part of a fun Twitter giveaway we're doing for those in attendance. We'll also be giving one away to the winner of our Favorite Workshop Reviewer poll (see below). Then, once we're back, we'll be offering it for sale on the site. No prices or details yet, but we'll have more info soon. Till then, let us know what you think about it in the comments.

More Writing Challenges: You had to know there were going to be more of these. We've started thinking about what our next challenge should be, and we want YOUR input. What genre would you like us to focus on? What should the restrictions/parameters be? Are there any ways we could improve the mechanics of the challenge itself? Let us know in the comments.

To The Polls!

Help us celebrate our first year with a look back at all the fun discussion, debate, and hard work put forth by our community. Vote for your favorite thread/debate/challenge/column/reviewer in the polls below. At the close of the month, winners will be declared and bragging rights will be doled out. These polls are stickied in our forums, so you can't miss them. You should also feel free to comment and discuss them in their respective threads.  

The winner of the Favorite Workshop Reviewer poll will receive a LitReactor prize package that includes a free 6 month membership (or renewal), one of our sweet new LitReactor t-shirts, and an advanced reader's copy of a book TBD.

Merci Beaucoup

Needless to say, none of this would have been possible without you, the members of the LitReactor community. This includes readers, writers, lurkers, registered members, contributors, class alumns, instructors, indifferent third parties, and horn-tooters. From all of us here at LitReactor: Thank you.

Tip your bartender. Make sure you check out our Staff Page and familiarize yourself with the wonderful people who keep this site afloat. Many of them have books/projects of their own and I'm sure they'd appreciate your support.

And to the LitReactor staff I say: Thanks so much for all your hard work. You guys have been amazing. Me included. You (we) make the internet a better place. Truly.

Let the celebration continue. What are some of your favorite LitReactor moments? What would you like to see from us in the future? Criticism or praise, sound off in the comments. Here's to another great year of reading, writing, and talking about reading and writing.

Joshua Chaplinsky

Column by Joshua Chaplinsky

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @jaceycockrobin. More info at and

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John Jarzemsky's picture
John Jarzemsky October 1, 2012 - 12:43pm

Holy shit, what a ride! I want one of those t-shirts! When's the LITREACTOR ORGY?!?!? WAHOOOOOOOOOO

Tom1960's picture
Tom1960 from Athens, Georgia is reading Blindness by Jose Saramago October 1, 2012 - 12:47pm

Happy Birthday!

Ben666's picture
Ben666 from Montreal, Canada is reading Scar Tissue, by Marcus Sakey October 1, 2012 - 1:16pm

Happy birthday LitReactor!!! The best writing/literature web site out there!

Scott MacDonald's picture
Scott MacDonald from UK is reading Perfidia October 1, 2012 - 1:19pm

Happy Birthday - I was a bit late to the party (only discovering this site through the Scare Us! competition), but it's been great coming on here and seeing some fantastic writing and feeling part of superb community.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies October 1, 2012 - 2:19pm

Congratulations. It's been one hell of a year. I obviously need to write a Top Ten Column, what the hell was I thinking?!?!

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from CA, TX, Japan, back to CA is reading The Tyrant - Michael Cisco, The Devil Takes You Home - Gabino Iglesias October 1, 2012 - 2:26pm

Congrats! I've enjoyed my time here and am sincerely sad that school has kept me too busy to participate much. Hoping to get a personal writing renaissance going at some point soon, though, so hopefully that will signal a return.

You guys are awesome!

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore October 1, 2012 - 2:33pm

Been a great ride so far, and I'm especially impressed that the zine article content has been consistently frequent and useful/interesting. Big ups to the staff and forum participants.

Pearl Griffin_2's picture
Pearl Griffin_2 from Portland, Oregon is reading Les Miserables October 1, 2012 - 3:19pm

Happy Birthday! I don't what I would do without LitReactor to keep me informed, connected, and motivated! Bring on Wordstock! 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks October 1, 2012 - 6:10pm

I'm disappointed in myself for being too broke to afford the Workshop subscription, but it's fucking awesome to see myself represented in a few of the polls. I love this site and the people involved, and I can't wait to see where it's headed.

EdVaughn's picture
EdVaughn from Louisville, Ky is reading a whole bunch of different stuff October 1, 2012 - 8:17pm

Happy Birthday Litreactor. I've really enjoyed the site, especially the advice columns, though I wish I could get involved in the workshop more. And I'm going to need one of those shirts. Here's to year two. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 1, 2012 - 9:35pm

happy birthday LR!

I may not have done a whole lot of writing, but thanks to the magazine & forums (fora?), I've done a whole lot of reading - found some great new writers I wouldn't have come across elsewhere.

thank you all for sharing your passions.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. October 1, 2012 - 9:53pm

Storyville is my favorite group of aricles.  It's always good.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life October 1, 2012 - 11:18pm

I second Storyville as a real gem here at Litreactor. A real, working writer writing about some gawdamn nuts'n'bolts! We need more of that.

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. October 2, 2012 - 1:48am


Congratulations, guys! have a cake shaped like some books!

Goddamn, has it been a year already?

So much fun stuff - agreed the magazine has been kicking ass. This really separates this site from the Cult, in that the main page is full of high-quality articles, you can really sink hours into reading around this place.

The forum has a great vibe (though it has been a little quiet over summer) and I have made some awesome new friends there.

The workshop is good times, though I haven't been there this past month or two. A natural progression of the Cult's workshop.

WAR and Flash Me! turned out to be two of my main outlets for writing this year. So much fun. Many thanks to those that organised them.

Oh, and I got a LR mug! Fuck yeah!!! All I need now is one of those sexy T-shirts.

Best lit-site, hands down.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin October 2, 2012 - 1:49am

Happy birthday Lit, we love you!

Community organised War (Utah & Avery) was an awesome event ~ look forward to War 2.

mmmmmm t-shirts....

@Richard ~ how about a top ten Storyville columns...

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz October 2, 2012 - 2:47am

Josh, this kicks tits.

ho-lee shitreactors™

waht a gwate yeeer

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine October 2, 2012 - 4:21am

Haha, thanks buddy. And thanks everyone for the kind words.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut October 2, 2012 - 6:38am

Happy Birthday!

underpurplemoon's picture
underpurplemoon from PDX October 2, 2012 - 7:55am


Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies October 2, 2012 - 8:07am

yeah, i'm trying to think of a great top ten column for november. maybe i'll start a thread.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine October 2, 2012 - 8:34am

Don't sell out, Rich!

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. October 2, 2012 - 9:13am

I might have to get that pen-knife as a tattoo.  Got a picture of it (not on a t-shirt)?

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 4, 2012 - 12:35pm

Happy 1st year! Does that mean we're walking now, or just crawling on all fours? And have we learned to say at least "ma-ma" and "boo-boo"?

I loved being part of the coolest site on the internet. Looking forward to new challenges!