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, it is still considered to be the finest book of its kind.

How to Order

See our How to Order page.


William Wallace Cook’s Plotto Featured on BBC

plotto_cover250Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots, and its author, William Wallace Cook, were recently featured on BBC Radio, in a program called “Miles Jupp and the Plot Device.” Listen to it here.

Jupp goes into Cook’s tremendously prolific writing life, the difficulty of getting a copy of the original printing of Plotto, and the fact that Plotto does not drop a finished plot into your lap, but takes some effort to master. (Cook later wrote a Plotto instruction manual to clarify how to use the book, which I’ve posted to this site.)

Jupp also discusses Plotto’s influence on at least one other writer, Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason. Every story introduced a new crime and new characters, which required a new plot.

How prolific was William Wallace Cook? At one point he worked with one, two, or even three stenographers at the same time, dictating one story to each in rotation, and filling in any gaps by sitting down at his typewriter and working on a different story.

Is Plotto a magic plotting device? I think it is, sort of. It’s not going to write your novel for you, but when I took Linda Hamner’s excellent scriptwriting course, it was clear that any movie has enough twists and turns to cause serious brain-freeze, and a TV series or a novel is even more daunting. Personally, I think Plotto is a magic device for subplots, especially if you expect not to cut ’em out and paste ’em down, but to use them as a starting point, or even just to jog your brain into coming up with something better.