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.


GEEK PITCH: Spider-Man

Editor’s Note: GEEK PITCH is an irregular column on that re-purposes what would normally be a nerd-fueled fever dream into a movie pitch.


We all know a new Spider-Man film is coming now that Spidey’s been welcomed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (through a deal reached between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures). With the little bits of news filtering through the pipeline, we’ve learned that Tom Holland is our new web-head, with Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. We also know that the joint film team is eyeing a new villain audiences haven’t seen on screen yet, with the rumor on the street fingering Kraven the Hunter as our criminal operator.

But that’s it. Beyond these small morsels, the doorway is wide open, with a plethora of questions waiting to be answered. Who will write it? What’s the story about? Are Sony and Marvel interested in reading a movie pitch from some guy on the Internet?

Before anyone can say no to that last question, I’m going to lay my cards out on the table. Take a moment to grab some popcorn or refill that soda. You ready?


In this universe, Peter Parker is still new to the dual identity game, having been Spider-Man for only a year. Uncle Ben has already passed, and the funeral is long behind Peter and his Aunt May. They’ve moved on, picked up the pieces, and are now making life work. At school, Peter is just another forgettable face, tucked away in a sea of students. Only Harry Osborn pays him any attention, and at that, it’s mostly to “study” Peter’s homework. It’s okay, though. Harry is dating Gwen Stacy, the nerd queen, science geek, and idol of Peter’s eye. When she comes over during their “study” sessions at the Osborn place, those few moments of nirvana are enough to keep Peter perilously toeing the line of expulsion.

Outside of school, Parker’s a low-level hero who’s a thorn in the side of common crooks, bank robbers, and police officers — he’s more of a nuisance than a revered superhero, frequently stepping on the toes of the local law enforcement. But Peter’s trying. He sees heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow, thinks of his murdered Uncle Ben, and dons the homemade Spider-Man mask anyway, looking for ways to aid New York however he can. It’s a compulsion at this point, a way to fill a void.

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