Awesome, thanks! After about an hour of fiddling around with it, I've achieved half of the functionality I'm after. Now, my only two issues are:
1. it displays posts from all categories (tried adding in a separate query to display category '11' but it turned up blank)
2. pagination breaks after a few pages (fiddling around with reading post count and my category post counts set via functions.php seems to have some effect, but it still breaks)
Any suggestions? I used the code pretty much as is, but changed the CSS, post data section, and posts per row/page. The general structure is still the same.
edit: Also, any way to implement this code via echo?
onclick="location.href='<?php the_permalink() ?>';"
Previously I had been using this easy solution (the others didn't work) to make the entire div a link. However, the apostrophes around the php seem to be conflicting with the inherent echo'code' markup.