Preston
J. Preston Witt

J. Preston Witt is fiction editor at The Journal, a publication affiliated with The Ohio State University. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing (Fiction) from the University of Michigan in 2010, and is now entering his third year of graduate school at The Ohio State University. He is the editor of PhoneFiction.

I’ll admit that I’ve always been a bit anti-capitalist. I am actually a member of the Communist Party of Italy. Which really means that on a class trip to Rome I paid five Euros for a t-shirt and a signed piece of paper—but you get the idea: I was one of those kids.

I received a grant this March from the Columbus Urban Arts Space for PhoneFiction, and three months later I find myself saying things like ‘business model’ and ‘gamification’ without cringing. There’s a beautiful story of a vegan who started a slaughterhouse because she wanted to see it was done right: I like to imagine doing something similar—the commuanarchic spy readjusting capitalist America. But the truth is that the PhoneFiction guys are just really cool, talented, ethical people. Go figure.

I write fiction and plays. My fiction has been recognized by a few wonderful journals: Black Warrior Review, Glimmertrain, and The New Guard. Most recently, my play Happy Panda Shoots Himself is currently in production at MadLab, a local Columbus theatre.

Preston can be reached at preston@phone-fiction.com. Please, send him lots of email.

Mark
Mark J. Lorenz

Mark Lorenz is a programmer for CoverMyMeds in Columbus, OH. He has built the whole PhoneFiction platform and is responsible for both its functionality and style. His wife, Nicole, have a pair of infant science-twins.

I was conceived on my catholic parents’ honeymoon—and on their First Time Ever. This congress of virgins happened in May of 1981. In December, I entered the world.

Growing up we did those awesome things that nerd-family's do: we went to the state fair every year to see the Agriculture exhibits (mmmm...butter cow); we helped Dad volunteer as a naturalist at the metro park; Mom taught 2nd-grade.

But on Sunday's we'd go over to my grandparents’ for lunch, and after-lunch my dad always fixed grandpa’s computer. Sometimes, when it was working, grandpa would show us the computer programs he'd written to solve crossword or Sudoku puzzles.

In high school, I followed in my father’s footsteps by joining the boy scouts and the marching band. On my way home from the library my life’s mission was revealed to me at a red light: engineering. I looked at the cars going by and the light, and I knew I was going to be a mechanical engineer.

I went to Ohio State...and failed miserably. Luckily, there were openings in the Welding Engineer program. Right when I started to get my life together, I met Nicole. And after graduation I got a job at a "tier one" locally operated Japanese automotive company. I made a pretty good life, getting married, buying a house, and enjoying myself.

Then 2008 kicked the door down and turned that garden hose on my life. I got to keep my job, but a lot of my coworkers were fired, and the company began treating everyone like it owned them. I was furious. And so, desperate to find a way away from this company, I decided to learn how to write iPhone apps. I bought programming book and started reading. I stayed up every night until 1 or 2 am reading and doing the exercises. Work started promptly at 8am.

Once I was done with the book I started to program.  I learned and learned, stayed up later and later. Until in 2009 I stayed up until 1:30am at least 360 nights (including Christmas). This kind of extended sleep depravation destroys your body and mind. If at any point day or night I sat down and closed my eyes I’d fall asleep. To stay awake, I joined the gym, and drank a lot of coffee. I was a zombie, but I didn't care, I was writing iPhone apps and taking back my own life.

In early 2010 I lost the use of my left arm. It's called Parsonage-Turner. Look it up. Luckily you don't need to lift your arms to program. To-date I have made 4 webpage businesses that were able to take money, and had a modest amount of customers. But I was still working for the "tier one" supplier to pay the bills.

Finally, at the end of 2012 my self-taught skills had gotten to the point that I could go on job interviews as a programmer. By grace of God, I got one at CoverMyMeds. The world’s most amazing company, where they treat me like a human being—more than that, a valuable adult. (Novel, I know.)

My new boss sent me to a conference where I met the rest of the PhoneFiction team. We clicked immediately, and it’s been love ever since.

Mark can be reached at mark@phone-fiction.com. He's waiting to hear from you.