Norton Creek Press

Classic Reprints and Old-Time Wisdom

Most of the best books ever written are out of print and forgotten. A few old books are considered classics and stay in print, but many equally good books vanish without a trace. At Norton Creek Press, we are bringing a relative handful of the very best books back into print. We read mountains of old books so you don’t have to.

Norton Creek Press is a family business run by Karen L. Black and Robert Plamondon (both writer/farmer/editor/engineers). We started out with a line of poultry books because, when we moved to our Oregon farm, we discovered that the more recent poultry books were not in tune with the needs of small farmers, while older books were. We read several hundred poultry publications, eventually choosing three to bring back into print (and writing a fourth). We’re branching out in directions that match our interests and experience, starting with back-to-the-land books. And there’s more to come!

Chickens and Poultrykeeping

Our line of classic poultry books cover many aspects of poultrykeeping. Most modern poultry books are disappointing, either because they are written at the post-graduate level for industry professionals or superficially for hobbyists. Thoughtful, thorough books that can be understood by the interested layman are no longer being written. With that in mind, we have reprinted the best poultry books of all time. These include Robert Plamondon’s Success With Baby Chicks, Milo Hastings’ The Dollar Hen, F. B. Hutt’s Genetics of the Fowl, and G. F. Heuser’s Feeding Poultry.

Gardening and Ruth Stout

We’ve brought back Ruth Stout’s classic Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy, and the Indolent, which has been called “the best gardening book ever!” Ruth Stoute was a simple-living advocate who nevertheless had an active and colorful life. Most people find all her writing delightful, even when it’s on a topic they otherwise aren’t interested in.

And since no one ever gets tired of Ruth Stout, we’ve rediscovered and republished two more of her books: Company Coming: Six Decades of Hospitality and If You Would be Happy: Cultivate Your Life Like a Garden.

Back-to-the-Land Adventures

We think you’ll love our back-to-the-land adventures as much as we do. We found all these books helpful when we were making our own back-to-the-land transition. They aren’t step-by-step handbooks, but they are inspirational and entertaining, and occasionally useful. All these books are classic success stories about people who moved from the city to the country and made a go at farming. The oldest is Edmund Morris’ classic Ten Acres Enough from 1864, M. G. Kains’ charming We Wanted a Farm from 1941, and Margaret Leatherbarrow’s fascinating Gold in the Grass from 1954.

Writing Fiction

If you write stories, you know what it’s like to have most of a story idea, but not a complete plot. Wouldn’t it be a relief to have a tool that adds some structure to the process of coming up with plot elements, and suggests twists and turns? We’re proud to reprint William Wallace Cook’s Plotto: The Classic Plot Suggestion Tool for Writers of Creative Fiction, (previously published as Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots), which for decades has been so scarce and so prized by professional authors and screenwriters that you would count yourself lucky to buy a used copy for a hundred dollars! Our exact reproduction of Plotto retails for just $18.95, making it a tool everyone can afford.

We’ve also republished Cook’s autobiography, the Fiction Factory.

Adventure Books

We’ve started our line of adventure books with Percy Keese Fitzhugh’s classic series of boy scout adventures, the Tom Slade series. This wonderful nineteen-volume set of boys’ books from the early days of scouting is just the beginning! Fitzhugh wrote several other, equally good series, and we will be bringing additional gems from other authors.

Through Dungeons Deep: A Fantasy Gamers’ Handbook

Robert wrote Through Dungeons Deep when he was in college. It tells you how to play and run fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. As you can see by the reviews on Amazon.com, it is still considered to be the finest book of its kind.

How to Order

See our How to Order page.


Amelia B. Edwards and Egyptology

A charming blog post, Walk Like an Egyptian, talks about the connection between novelist and travel writer Amelia B. Edwards and the development of modern Egyptology.

After Edwards visited Egypt in 1873 and wrote A Thousand Miles up the Nile, she founded the Egypt Exploration Fund, which supported the efforts of Flinders Petrie, the founder of modern, scientific Egyptology. (Howard Carter, who discovered King Tuthankamen’s tomb, was a student of Petrie’s.)

The blog points out that women novelists and Egyptology go arm-in-arm. For instance, Agatha Christie (Death Comes as the End, Death on the Nile) and Elizabeth Peters (the Amelia Peabody novels) both spent time excavating along the banks of the Nile. In fact, it’s clear that Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody is based on Amelia B. Edwards, and the action in the first Amelia Peabody book, Crocodile on the Sandbank is based on Edwards’ voyage as told in A Thousand Miles up the Nile.

A Thousand Miles up the Nile is still available in various editions. My very own Norton Creek Press edition is, in my opinion, the best available, because it’s an exact reproduction of the lavishly illustrated second edition, with the whole story in one volume, will no illustrations omitted.  (Some editions are only the first volume of a two-volume edition, and most omit the illustrations.)

A Thousand Miles up the Nile is a leisurely and well-written narrative of her time in Egypt, detailing both the ancient monuments and the contemporary people she encountered. As with all Victorian travel writing, it’s a product of a vanished age. But in this case it’s a product of a vanished age talking about another, much older vanished age. The dual perspective casts intriguing shadows!

Dungeons & Dragons Back in Fashion?

The New Yorker just published an article, The Uncanny Resurrection of Dungeons & Dragons. Apparently even trendy people are playing role-playing games now!


In the years after I wrote Through Dungeons Deep: A Fantasy Gamers’ Handbook, one thing that’s surprised me is how well the old-school role-playing games have held up, and how few important changes have been made in the newer editions. One thing that surprises me is that tabletop role-playing games are still done almost entirely by hand, with little in the way of apps to assist with the mechanics, dice, and table lookups. It’s still 1980 that way. But that’s okay. 1980 is a great vintage for role-playing games.

In the New Yorker article, it mentions that some people are using role-playing games therapeutically, especially with kids, building a variety of skills more or less incidentally to the fascinating play. I’ve actually done a little of this, hosting several sessions at Corvallis’ Social Communications Clinic, with a group of middle-school kids. It was exactly as much fun as a barrel of monkeys!

Though dating from the early Eighties, Through Dungeons Deep is back in print, through the miracle of, “it’s my company and I can publish what I want.” But it still gets excellent reviews. So check out Dungeons & Dragons, Through Dungeons Deep, or both!


Current Examples of Ruth Stout’s No-Work Gardening

People still love Ruth Stout’s no-work, no-dig, permanent mulch gardening methods, as described in her book Gardening Without Work. Here are some recent blogs posts from people who use Ruth’s methods in their own gardens:

Growing Food With Greg: Gardening the Easy Way

Greg even includes a video, “How to Build a No-Till Garden in Six Minutes”:

David the Good’s No-Dig Garden Demonstration

And over on The Survival Gardener, David has collected videos of no-dig gardening from the large-scale to using an old tire as a planter.

These are just a few examples of the thousands of gardens worldwide using Ruth Stout’s methods.

Don’t have your copy of Gardening Without Work yet? I’m the pubisher! See my Gardening Without Work page and order yours from Amazon or the Kindle Store or whatever.