Why a Novel in Sonnets (and how you can help)

Bucket - Aaron Strout
“Shall I compare thee to a metal pail?” (“Bucket” photo by Aaron Strout, CC by 2.0)
I have a bucket list. It isn’t like most: I’ve already gone many places, seen wondrous things, met amazing people, found my true love, raised a family with her, owned a motorcycle, rode it through the Rockies, held multiple occupations (factories, nursing, military, game design, education), presidented the WI Fellowship of Poets, won some game-design and poetry awards, and so on.

My bucket list is to write a handful of novels that have been hanging fire while I did those other things.

Now, one great way to master novel writing is to write copies of what masterful novelists have written. Steven Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance) typed out passages of Hemingway for practice. Jack London hand wrote copies of Kipling. Robert Louis Stephenson and Benjamin Franklin copied authors they admired.

I’m trying something different: In my first novel, I’ve been applying poetry skills to write chapters as sonnets, and aggregating those slowly but surely into an overarching plot. The result is The Pastime Machine, an irreverent mashup of Dante and Wells. It’s roughly half done at the time of this post.

After completing this first novel, I’ll tackle the next ones in prose. Before I die, I hope to finish at least Van Helsing’s Confession (an iconoclastic take on Dracula), L’Académie des Arcanes (an adventure story of modern-day magical police, based on the D6xD6 setting), and Suzie-Q Suzuki (which may well end up as a series). I’m sure other titles will come.

In our social-media world, many artists, musicians, filmmakers, and even game designers are supported in their work by a community of patrons. To fund my own creative dreams, I’ve set up a page at Patreon.com.

So, if you’re a friend, or a fan; if I’ve touched your life in some positive way in the past; please consider pledging $1/mo. at Patreon.com/LesterSmith to help make these things a reality. I promise to do my level best to make the rewards well worth your while. Thank you.

SKORO Retires


Recently, a Facebook friend chided me for having the same profile picture there for the past decade. So today I changed to something more recent, and that sort of begged for a cover photo change as well.

Down came my Rock Band II drummer SKORO—the jubilant alter ego that has served me well all these years, founder of The Flush Towlettes—to be replaced by cover images of a few print games published recently via Popcorn Press.

Thank you for your service, SKORO, I’ll reincarnate you when I get moved into the new home, pick up a PS4, and start a new band with Rock Band IV.

Three New Poetry Titles!

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).

Keep Me Off the Streets!

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!