Final issue of Literary Orphans (And Where I’m Going From Here)

DominoIt’s been an insanely long time since I last wrote on the blog (over a year). Since then, I’ve been winding down from duties at Literary Orphans. My last issue as editor in chief came out at the end of January. You can read my farewell “Letter From the Editor” here.

In the last year, I reached critical mass. Life outside of writing and Literary Orphans had grown incredibly busy. Work in the digital marketing realm was picking up, demanding more of my creativity and time. I was offered more freelance writing/editing gigs (boring contracts… but still.. MONEY). My wife, Deanna, started her Master’s program, which meant that she would be spending much less time at home and more time at school,  while juggling her full-time job and an internship. Everyday errands we used to split down the middle became mine to maintain.

On top of these life changes, I spent about 10-15 hours per week working on Literary Orphans. I loved the journal, but there was increasingly less time to step away and relax or work on my own projects.

I’m sure every writer, poet, artist, or any other type of creator out there will echo the sentiment that part of the drive to create is a sense of fulfillment at having birthed something out into the world, at the journey of creating from nothing. This is a sentiment I also share, and with all of these extra tasks added to my plate, I found myself putting off my personal writing time and again.

The robot book? I’d edit part of a chapter once a month. That short story I wanted to write? I’d write a couple of paragraphs every few weeks. My many tasks gave me excuses to put off working on the things that, like glue, held me together.

I love Literary Orphans to my core. It’s introduced me to so many wonderful writers and artists, and reading submissions taught me so much about the world and what people are going through. At the same time, it was also the most sensible task on my regular to-do list to cut.

It was not easy, and I mulled over the decision to step down from Literary Orphans for a couple of months before I finally pulled the trigger. I will miss reading weekly batches of submissions and emailing back and forth with the writing community, but stepping down allowed me to reorganize and restructure my life.

Since stepping down, I’ve completed a handful of short stories I am currently shopping around for a (hopeful) publication. I’ve also dug back into that robot book and started editing it again. We often forget that when we step away from a project for a while, the project stays the same, but we, as humans, grow. When we come back, we aren’t who we are when we left, and we find so much more we want to say/change/edit.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next couple of months. Right now, I’m taking it slow and hoping for the best. I know I want to play exclusively within the realms of scifi and horror. I also know that my end goal, perhaps years from now, is to write Batman for DC Comics.

Saying that last line so plainly sounds silly, but I mean every word. I want to wear the mantle and do for the next generation what my heroes have done for me.

Until next time…

We’re all in this together,


Finding Time to Write

It’s become a regular habit of mine to write on my lunch break at the day job. Almost every weekday (aside from Wednesdays because that’s new comic book day), I take my hour in one of the empty conference rooms at the office and put pen to paper. I write until my fingers hurt.  I write until the big clock on the wall tells me it’s 1:59 pm.  I write until my brain’s burnt out from the adrenaline rush of cramming creativity into a one-hour block during the day when I’m not managing an email marketing campaign, polishing off some freelance project, making dinner, spending time with the wife, going through submissions for Literary Orphans, putting together the next issue of Literary Orphans, preparing lunch for tomorrow, or running an errand to keep the homestead in order.

Big exhale.

No one says being an adult is easy, and I’m not complaining that it isn’t. If anything, trying to build a career and a family, all while holding on to that dream of writing for an audience of more than one, has taught me some much-needed respect. When I go into one of those empty conference rooms each day for my lunch break, I don’t go in alone. There are a handful of others I occupy a creative space with. These others include aspiring authors and writers, all of whom are looking to breathe life into something creative and wholly their own during the humdrum of 9-to-5 living. They’re my support group, and together, we charge each other to find that creative spirit within ourselves.

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Failure is a Good Thing

In 2009, I graduated Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Film and Print & Broadcast Media. I was a media junkie and a media jack-of-all-trades. That summer, I knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel that blew everyone away.

Fast forward to 2011, and I self-published my first book. It was supposed to be an edgy, gritty, and existential coming-of-age story about some backwoods kid who spent most of his time consuming advertising. Some people told me that they genuinely enjoyed it, and others changed the topic when I asked them about it at social gatherings.

I was 23 at the time. After it released, I sat back and waited. For what? Ultimately, nothing. With my university degree in my belt, I spent a few years in a plateau. I was carrying around a piece of paper that said I had learned something, and in hindsight, I used it as an excuse to stop learning.

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Literary Orphans Issue 25: Chicago is OUT! (And so is my article in ‘The Weeklings’)


Dear Orphans & Orphanettes,

On May 27, 2012, the first issue of Literary Orphans was published. Under the dedicated leadership of Mike Joyce, a digital magazine that valued art just as much as literature made its debut in the indie lit scene. There wasn’t much expectation for recognition or fanfare, but there was hope. Hope that Literary Orphans would grab someone, albeit for a few minutes, to read this fledgling, brand-new magazine slapped together by a few Chicagoland bums with high-minded ideals and a powerhouse team of some great writers.

The original Literary Orphans tribe consisted of fantastic works by Gary Anderson, Jeffrey S. Callico, Mikhial Carter, James Claffey, Joe Clifford, Joanna Delooze, Ryan Everett Felton, Cheryl Anne Gardner, Faith Gardner, Kyle Hemmings, Gill Hoffs, Jayme Joyce, Joel Kopplin, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, John Maloof, Peter Marra, Neila Mezynski, Luca Penne, Claire Podulka and Emily Smith-Miller. With each issue, this tribe would grow, to an unincorporated patch of indie lit space, to a village, a town. These days, it’s akin to a bustling city, welcoming a new group of writers, poets and artists from all over the world every two months.

With each issue, Literary Orphans is doing its hardest to be that cultural melting pot, to be that brightly lit metropolis teeming with fresh faces and fresh ideas all working to build something truly greater than themselves. Though the journal is still a volunteer organization, it’s evolved a lot over these past 24 issues. We went from reviewing submissions via e-mail chains to a more user-friendly program called Submittable. We went from our original design to something sleeker, more modern and with mobile functionality. We went from one bi-monthly journal to a journal, a nonfiction blog and an archive for other digital magazines.

From one seed of an idea, a whole community has sprouted, connecting writers and artists all over the world with a unifying badge of honor. I, too, am an orphan.

Read the REST of the “Letter From The Editor” HERE, and check out the latest Literary Orphans issue HERE.

I have a debut piece over at The Weeklings, which you can read HERE. This one was months in the making, and I’m glad it’s finally out. I’ve received some pretty positive feedback, too, so there’s a bonus!Spider-Ham

Here’s a taste…

As much as I hate to admit it, the nightly parade of television pundits who hit us with damning statistics, straw-man arguments, and emotional human-interest stories, all in order to convince us America is in trouble, are right. This is a time of crisis. We do have to make America great again. But it’s gone well beyond Donald J. Trump and some stupid hat. We’re becoming a nation of adult children, of insipid man- and woman-babies struggling to do as little as we can to get by.

The signs are all around us. Ever overhear a coworker at the water cooler lament the choice between paying bills and buying the latest set of officially licensed Star WarsLegos? How about that old high school friend who brags about skipping work to eat canned pasta in his PJ’s while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Or that dopey sales associate who shows up to meetings wearing Poké Ball earrings and complains that no one takes her seriously?

My friend actually said this to me the other day: “Ugh. Don’t make me adult today! I just want to stay home and finish coloring this wicked sweet dragon!”

Adulting. It’s a word now, a contentious verb spit in the face of the hurricane of the day-to-day living. And we need to do our best to bring down the beast. Because if we don’t, if we let it slide, if we acknowledge adult coloring books as a form of “meditation,”…well, at least in a small way, we’re letting evil win.


Summer Updates


I’ve had “I Love It” by Icona Pop stuck in my head for most of this week, which is a clear indicator that it’s summer. Why? Because it just sounds like summer. It sounds like the perfect party song, that recognizable tune you hear blasting at graduation parties when the smell of the backyard barbecue permeates the air. It breathes life, and summer events are the very essence of life. Coincidentally, “I Love It” is also a song that has been deeply embedded into the far reaches of my psyche because I dared to see that Kevin Costner 3 Days to Kill movie once.  In the film, the tune is used as a cell phone ringtone, so it plays often.

Editor’s Note: The above comments are in no way intended as an endorsement of 3 Days to Kill. The opinion of this writer is that said movie is “fun/bad,” the kind of movie you watch with a few buddies after a couple of beers. It won’t knock your socks off, but it might unintentionally make you laugh. 

Now that I’ve related my penchant for Icona Pop, it’s time for the latest updates.

  • I was interview in The Review Review.
  • I reviewed Keanu a moon or two ago on Drunk Monkeys.
  • A fiction piece of mine, “Following Orders,” was also featured on Drunk Monkeys.
  • Issue 24 of Literary Orphans, Audrey, also hit the interwebz. It’s in reference to the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors, and you can read why this was chosen as our orphan in the Letter From The Editor.
  • A NONFICTION piece of mine will be featured on The Weeklings come July 7th! Woohoo!

Spring Updates!

DMAWith the impending nuptials coming up (in just over a week) and everything else I’m doing at the Literary Orphans fun factory, I haven’t had time to sit down and write for the personal site. That said, I do have a few fantastic updates to share, the biggest one being the Drunk Monkeys Anthology! My essay on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is included in the anthology, which is available on Amazon in PRINT and EBOOK.

It’s truly a phenomenal honor to appear alongside such a wonderful line-up. Much respect and appreciation is owed to Matthew Guerruckey and the entire Drunk Monkeys staff. They’re wonderful, warm and friendly people, and I’m happy to call them both colleagues and friends. Whether we’re talking shop or racking our brains over comic books, it’s always a great time.



Holiday Updates!

It’s been busy over this holiday season. With the workload hitting me heavy, reviews needing writing, editing jobs to finish and finding time to scrounge up some creative writing of my own, I’ve been buried under many, many tasks. I haven’t had much time to catch up on the fun things I like doing… like writing at the personal site. Hopefully work will ease up enough to where I can get back to this regularly, but in the meantime, I have a couple of updates I’d like to share.


The Brick Mason’s Sons

Several months back, a writer I greatly respect asked if I would write a blurb for his upcoming novel. To say I was honored was an understatement. I was floored. It was the first time anyone ever asked me to write a blurb. M-m-m-me?

I’ve since read the book, The Brick Mason’s Sons,  twice now (it’s really damn good), and I only hope my blurb does it justice. You can find it over at his website at or buy the book from Amazon and read the blurb from the back cover. I recommend the latter, as it’ll be a great addition to any personal library.


Literary Orphans Issue 22: Jane

The December issue of Literary Orphans is LIVE. It’s spectacular! One of the best we’ve ever done with stupendous and stunning artwork. It’s also the first time we’ve released a regular issue in December. Check it out!

Star Wars, Updates & General News

I saw SPECTRE with my brother over the weekend, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Before the film, however, the new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens played. It was one of those rare moments in a theater where I was overwhelmed with emotion. When that slowed down version of Han and Leia’s theme hummed as the Millenium Falcon weaved through Imperial debris, I’ll admit, my eyes watered. I looked over at my brother, and I could see it in his eyes, too.

There we were, two grown men in a matinee showing of a James Bond film, succumbing to a flood of imagery reminiscent of another time, so very long ago.

I never thought I’d see the Millenium Falcon (or its crew) on the big screen again. After the original Star Wars trilogy ran in theaters for the last time in the mid 90’s, I thought that was it. No more. Finito. Finished. Adventures with my childhood heroes would be relegated to the whims of my imagination at home. I’d have to carry on the tales alone with my action figures or pretend when reading a piece of glorified fan fiction. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew and Billy Dee Williams were still around, but they had moved on to different things. Indefinitely.

But here they were again.

I know many people feel the same. The Internet is overflowing with reaction videos, blog posts and articles about this, and it all boils down to the same idea: our old friends are back.

They were a big part of our collective childhood. They were our heroes, teaching us the ways of the galaxy, the power of attitude and ability to reach out and overcome the impossible. These heroes were plucked from the richest well of imagination, and they were given to us to share visions of another way of experiencing the world around us. To put it simply, they brought us magic and the gift of perspective.



I’ve been away for some time, learning the ropes of my new promotion as manager of my copy department (at the day job). I’m back now, bringing with me a wonderful discussion with the fine folks at Drunk Monkeys about Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I’m not a fan of the prequels, but I do my best to make amends, to find peace with this lackluster trilogy.

I have more in the pipeline, too. At the end of the month, a “writing tips” column will pop up at Drunk Monkeys. With any luck, some more short stories should start appearing on the Internet.


LITERARY ORPHANS ISSUE 19: Letter From The Editor [Reprint]

This Letter From The Editor was originally printed in the latest issue of Literary Orphans on June 10, 2015. It’s my debut as editor-in-chief of the journal, finally coming out of the shadows and getting a little more hands-on with LO. If you follow me and haven’t checked it out, I’d heavily recommend it. Not just because I’m involved. If you read the letter, you’ll see that I intend for it to be something greater than myself, something greater than all of us.

I’ve decided to reprint the letter on my personal site because of all the outpouring of support I’ve gotten for it. I was worried it wouldn’t fly, but people love it. One commentator even said it was reminiscent of Thomas Paine. The comparison made me blush.


Dear Orphans & Orphanettes,

When Executive Director Mike Joyce asked me to steer the Literary Orphans ship, I’ll admit, a sense of worry washed over me. Apocalyptic visions of cities crumbling to their foundations rattled me. I had memories of movies I had seen where all that stood of civilization was a weathered Big Ben jutting out of a pile of rubble. Mike was doing a great job, and the last thing I wanted to do was come in like a bumbling lab assistant and mix up the formula.

So I dipped into the LO ether. I revisited our earliest notes three years ago, back when LO was a mere thought, and imbibed those ambitions. I poured through old “Letters From The Editor,” starting with the very first one in Literary Orphans Issue 1: Babe. At times, my journey felt like being reintroduced to an old friend, and at other times, it felt like I had seen a ghost, as if I were viewing stills of a past incarnation no longer with us. It’s true that LO has gone through changes, many of which were cosmetic, but the same heart still beats at its core. It just looks different. The journal has grown into new clothes.

In my many notes I passed back and forth with Mike, one of the constants was this idea of Literary Orphans as a media identity. What were we? Were we a counterculture outfit? Were we a haven for the disenfranchised? Were we the explorers that sailed against the winds?

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