• Current Projects!

    The Pastime Machine
    An ongoging novel in sonnets roasting Wells, Dante, & more!

    I'm translating this dark classic Spanish game to English.

  • Suggested Reading

    Final Failure: Eyeball to Eyeball
    Zen of the Dead - cover

    Grim Series: poems
    edge of the pond
  • Brief Bio

    A 2-term past president of the WFOP, 4-time Origins-winning game designer, and former HWG JavaScript teacher, retired from educational publishing to produce poetry, fiction, & games via Popcorn Press.

  • Featured Products

    Role-play in your favorite novels with the D6xD6™ RPG!

    Sword fight with a specially illustrated poker deck!

  • Other Card Games…

    Monster Con card game
    Invasion of the Saucer People card game
    Wolf Man's Curse card game
  • Poetry

    George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron ByronIn 1985, a British Romantic Period Literature class changed my life. The poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats wakened in me a passion for writing. I determined to somehow make a career of it—and somehow feed my children.

    Since then I’ve worked exclusively in publishing, first for game companies, now in education. I also continue to write, study, and promote poetry. It’s my opinion that poetry used to belong to the people, until academics stole it. It’s high time to steal it back from them.

    Three New Poetry Titles!

    Lester : November 12, 2015 12:03 pm : Announcements, Poetry, Popcorn Press

    Dethier - Cade - Joy

    From Utah, New Zealand, and Scotland, we’ve recently added three new poetry collections at Popcorn Press!

    Reclamation, from Brock Dethier (head of the composition program at Utah State University), is an honest examination of adult repercussions of a childhood trauma, ultimately finding moments of contentment, and even joy.

    Chemical Letters, from Octavia Cade (PhD in science communication—New Zeland), posits a scientist waking in a periodic table of elements turned apartment complex, which she must explore to find her self.

    Teaching Neruda, from B. T. Joy (a former high-school teacher—Scotland) is a poetic exploration of a diverse range of famous poets, musicians, and visual artists.

    We’re honored and thrilled at the opportunity to publish each of these excellent collections. You can find them in print and ebook format alike at Amazon.com, or at PopcornPress.com (in print, with ebook format soon to come).

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    Sonnet Structure & The Pastime Machine

    Lester : November 6, 2015 12:16 pm : Fiction, Poetry

    GearsGears” by William Warby is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and has been color edited.

    As you may be aware, I’m building The Pastime Machine, an irreverent novel in sonnets, at a pace of one sonnet a week.

    I’d like to bend your ear for a moment about structural choices in that work.

    English has two main sonnet schemes: Petrarchan and Shakespearean. Both are 14 lines long. Both use iambic pentameter for line structure (five “feet” consisting of da-DUM rhythm: as in “That TIME of YEAR thou MAYST in ME beHOLD”). The main difference is their rhyme scheme.

    Petrarchan sonnets are named after the Italian sonneteer Petrarch (sonnets actually originated in Italy), and they have a tightly woven rhyme scheme. The first stanza is eight lines long (an octave) with an abbaabba rhyme order. It often introduces a question or problem. The second stanza is six lines long (a sestet) with a rhyme order of either cdecde or cdcdcd. Its purpose is to resolve the question or problem. Either way, it’s a lot of rhyme, which is fine for Romance languages like Italian, but not so easy in relatively rhyme-poor English.

    Shakespearean sonnets (sometimes referred to simply as English sonnets) instead use three four-line stanzas (quatrains) followed by a rhymed couplet (two lines). Rhyme scheme is often abab cdcd efef gg. Generally, each quatrain presents the same question or problem in a different fashion, and the couplet responds. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73” is a pretty awesome example. (The sample iambic pentameter above is the first line of “Sonnet 73.”)

    You may also hear of Miltonic sonnets (which I won’t bother describing here) and Spenserian sonnets (which I will). Spenserian sonnets tighten Shakespeare’s form by carrying a rhyme from each quatrain to the next: abab bcbc cdcd ee.

    As an aside, let me point you to the masterful variation Shelley used in “Ozymandias“: ababacdcedefef. (That link takes you to a side-by-side comparison of Shelley’s and Horace Smith’s—the latter of which would surely be forgotten entirely if not for its dubious comparison to the former.) And mention that I recall Sylvia Plath (I think—I’m currently living in my oldest daughter’s guest room, waiting for our new home, and my books are in storage) extending her final couplets to iambic hexameter. And toss in that I tend to call my alphabetic morph rhyme poems—such as “Last Flight of a Vickers Gun Bus Pilot“—sonnets (because the word means “little songs”).

    That was all introduction. Now to the point.

    For the extended sonnet sequence of The Pastime Machine, I’ve chosen to cross Petrarchan and Shakespearean forms for comedic effect. To my mind and ear…

    1. quatrains keep things short and punchy;
    2. rhymed lines immediately next to each other (lines 2 and 3 in each quatrain) lends to comedic sound; and
    3. a couplet ending makes a good punchline.

    That having been said, my old friend Shelly Hall (now deceased) pointed out that a whole novel of strong rhyme in this fashion could grow dreadfully sing-song. So I’ve been consciously choosing to distance some rhymes (“place / amazed,” “tale / Hell”), while assaulting your ear with others (“lay / flagrante”).

    Having pulled back the curtain for a moment, to hint at the mad gathering of gears behind this monstrous machine, I’ll let it fall again and return to my labors.

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    Keep Me Off the Streets!

    Lester : November 3, 2015 1:27 pm : Announcements, Fiction, Free Games, Game Design, Miscellany, Poetry, Popcorn Press, Spanish

    homeless Seriously, do you want something like this running around loose?

    You may have noticed more social media from me lately. I’ve gone through a major life change: I left my old job, moved my household to Loma, Nebraska, and am again working full-time in hobby games & related entertainment—this time freelance.

    If you’re a fan of my work—old or new—you can help decide if the world sees more of it.

    Word of mouth—and maybe a buck—is all I ask.

    Here’s a quick overview of projects a single buck can help:

    1. Aquelarre: Perhaps the best RPG not available in English. I’m doing the translation to English for Stewart Wieck of World of Darkness fame. Your dollar can help make this the best edition possible.
    2. The Pastime Machine: I’m writing an irreverent novel in sonnets, one sonnet a week. A buck a month gets you the whole thing, plus influence on its direction. More backers means you get additional novels for that same buck!
    3. D6xD6 RPG: The free rules of my multi-genre role-playing game are online at www.d6xd6.com. For just a buck, you can pick up your choice of settings at DriveThruRPG and help support further expansion of the line.
    4. Popcorn Press: My small-press publishing house produces poetry and fiction by a range of authors. Ebook versions are under a buck on Amazon and DriveThruFiction. You can also find our print-and-play card games for under a buck on DriveThruCards.

    More things are in the works: A supers dice game, a few board games, the D13 RPG. Join the Popcorn Press mailing list to stay abreast.

    So how about it? If any of these things strikes your fancy, or if I’ve given you a moment of joy in the past, consider dropping a buck on one of these projects—and tell somebody else about them.

    Help keep me off the streets, and working away at something fun for both of us!



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