Being an author whose books have “yet to achieve” major bestseller status isn’t particularly rewarding in the monetary sense. Currently, my greatest rewards come from meeting avid readers, advocating for literacy and the love of reading, and making friends with other writers around the world.

That being said, the biggest motivator for me is helping my favorite charity through sales of my books. All these perks are worth far more than any money I hope to someday earn from my book sales.


I recently had the privilege of making a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern MN for $297 generated from book sales in 2017. I donate one dollar to BBBS for every copy of Castle Danger I sell–print or eBook. I raised additional dollars by asking people to round up the purchase price of the print book to $20 when they buy a copy. I sold 190 books in 2017. Nearly every person who bought a book from me in person gladly rounded up the extra $1.80 to an even $20.

I’m pleased to announce my sales increased from 2016, so I was able to donate more money to BBBS this year. I hope to continue that upward sales trend in 2018. I expect sales will be boosted when Straight River is published (as soon as is humanly possible!!) With steady sales of Castle Danger continuing this year added to new sales of Straight River later this year, I hope to reach a $400 donation for 2018.

(Point of interest: even if I factor back in my BBBS donations, I’ve still only covered about 60% of the total cost of producing, editing, formatting, printing, and promoting Castle Danger. And I don’t even want to think about all the coffee and pastries I’ve purchased to fuel my writing energy! Warning: Think twice before becoming a writer for the income. 🙂 )

What do you do (or what have you done) that surprised you by generating more personal rewards than you expected than financial rewards?

P.S.–If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a Big Brother, Big Sister, or Big Couple, check out the national BBBS website or click on the Southern MN link above.

Blatant self-promotion: Hey, Babooners, I’ve got several signing appearances scheduled in the Twin Cities and greater MN (and WI) this year. The first one is in Rosemount on Saturday, March 24. I’ll also be in Hudson, WI, and Hopkins, Morristown, Owatonna, Hackensack, and Mankato later this year. To get all the details, go to or like my FB author page.




  1. Well, that’s an easy question. My rewarding activity is photography. And while I haven’t come close to covering 60% of my expenses (like Chris has) with the little bit I’ve sold, the rewards of being able to be outside, seeing and shooting beautiful things goes beyond any tangible benefits.

    Most recent example: I mentioned yesterday the sunrise I shot on Sunday at Powderhorn Park. This is for the Powderhorn365 project and I wouldn’t have done this if not for the fact that I’d committed to doing a photo every Sunday. I checked the weather forecast the evening before and saw that our clear weather was forecast to become increasing clouds starting right before sunrise. I figured the chances were good for a “nice” sunrise and the forecast was exactly right and my hunch was right, too – the sunrise was beyond nice, it was gorgeous. And while I got my shot, the best part was watching it all from darkness to sun coming up over the horizon in the (relative) quiet of the dawn. I’m not naturally a morning person, but it was totally worth it to drag my tired self out of bed to see this. There are many more examples, but that’s the most recent.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I often think photography would be my second choice in some sort of artistic sideline. I used to be into photography a lot, back in the old Kodak slide carousel days, but for some strange reason, lost interest with the advent of digital photography. But I firmly believe a great photograph is much better art than most paintings. Reason: you just can’t top Mother Nature for beauty and awe.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did film photography too, way back when, and now, after a long hiatus from doing anything with a camera, have found digital photography to be way more fun and creative than film photography. More work, too, now that I can’t outsource the processing, but worth the extra work.


        1. i come from art and was taught photography was not art

          then i met andre adams then man ray then the wpa folks and weston and……

          i like photography


  2. Congrats Chris. Wonderful charity. Those human contact charities I think are the best. Nothing I have done fits your question. Two of my careers were jobs helping people for less than stellar pay? Does that count? In truth I do not know to what extent it mattered. But then you just do the best you can and let it go, don’t you?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’ve written previously on the Trail about my collection of nineteenth century theatrical photos
    and also my set of images from a 1904 trip through Europe.
    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I make the images generally available to anyone who asks. There are other places online where one can find images of 19th C actors and actresses. The University of Washington, in their extensive digital collection, has an album of theatrical photos. However, U of W charges for use of their images, both for the image itself and for permission to use it. My feeling is that I don’t own the images, only a particular copy, and I get more pleasure out of interacting with the individuals who contact me than I would from any fee I might assess.

    If the image is to be used in a book, I mention to the requester that, if possible, I’d like a copy of the book when it’s published. I have a half dozen or so books that my images have appeared in. One image, of actress Charlotte Cushman in costume for the role of Romeo, has appeared in at least three books and was on loan for a year with a travelling exhibit.

    One of my theatrical images appeared in a TV documentary about George Custer.

    My 1904 images were part of a European Learning Channel program about turn-of-the-century tourism in Vienna. One of them was used in an altered state for an episode of Murdoch Mysteries. Because they are available, unwatermarked, on Flickr, they turn up in websites and blog posts internationally.

    The one time I charged for the use of an image was when a British designer wanted to use it for a gin label. I collected a modest fee and a half dozen bottles of London gin.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. There’s only a couple things I do where I actually get paid — my job is nice, but boring and not very fulfilling. I make jewelry, but haven’t actually sold any; I generally give them as gifts. I have a lot of beautiful beads and stuff, but haven’t sat down to actually create a bunch to sell. I also do some massage, which is nice and is gratifying to see a client feel much better — but I only have one regular client.

    And then there’s karate — which I paid a huge amount of money for the tuition and training. I totally love it and my family has received so much from it, especially my youngest with autism. I just competed in a tournament on Sunday which was fun. Didn’t exactly answer the question, but it will have to do!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I fear I am one of those people who can only do things that are intrinsically rewarding—interest, altruism, benefit to others—and income has to be the secondary gain. I have a hard time doing something over time “just for the money.” I could only tolerate babysitting, car hopping, and keypunch jobs if I knew they would end on a particular date.

    Always the problem is the workplace manager who is an idiot or abusive to staff or a petty tyrant. That is like sandpaper on my emotional skin.

    So now I am getting myself into another “do it for the common good and no money situation.” I just volunteered to be part of an organization that monitors the type of therapy I do.

    But it is satisfying. 🤓😉

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Just for the record, I think there is an unwritten Rule of the Trail that if the question doesn’t fit anything in your experience, a baboon can (and frequently does, thank heaven) twist the question just a tad, to fit something in your experience…

    Is that you in the photo, Chris?

    Teaching folk dance has given me a lot of pleasure over the years. For some reason I can remember what it was like as a beginner, so I am best teaching them, and their gratitude is quite satisfying.. There is usually little if any $ compensation, maybe some free passes to events, etc. (except Tapestry in Mpls. which does pay its teachers a stipend). An added bonus is that you learn the dances much better by analyzing them for others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s me in the photo. I agree that one of the fun things about this blog is that the posts are often a starting point for a conversation that takes off in a different direction and is sometimes more interesting than the original conversation. 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve never had a job that paid well, so in one sense all my work (especially teaching, photography and writing) was done in the hope someone could enjoy it. Much of my work was done mostly to earn a check and to support some larger enterprise. Two of my books were written “from the heart” because I was especially passionate about them.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. OT: Somewhere in the past few weeks I’ve heard/read about a cold remedy — not a substance, but something you DO (or do not)… the writer had found that when s/he did this as soon as they felt a cold coming on, it seemed to get rid of it. Was going to copy it down and of course forgot; I’ve just hunted through recent blog posts and didn’t find it
    Anyone else remember either writing or reading about it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know about cold cures but here are some remedies for warts:

      1. Take a stick of elder wood, cut nine notches in it and rub the warts on the notches. Seal the stick up in an envelope and drop it at the first crossroad you come to. The unlucky person who picks up the envelope will get the warts.

      2. Count the warts and make a packet of as many grains of wheat or pebbles as there are warts. Throw the packet over the shoulder without looking round, where the crossroads meet, in the hope of transferring them to the finder of the packet.

      3. Take a live snail, rub the warts with it, then bury the snail alive or stick it on the blackthorn. This must be done secretly and as the snail shrivels up the warts will disappear.

      4. Steal some beef from a butcher’s shop, rub the warts with it and bury it. As the meat decays so the warts will disappear.

      5. Get a cunning woman or man to cross each wart carefully with a piece of thread, then fold the thread into a piece of paper, taking it away with them. The warts will be gone too.

      6. Steal a bit of your neighbour’s fat bacon and rub the warts with it nine times. Bury it secretly under a stone or, better still, in an ant heap (an ‘oonty tump’). As it decays the warts will disappear.

      7. Take pieces of bread from a newly baked loaf equal in number to the warts. If secretly buried the warts will be cured.

      8. A wen on the neck could be cured by the application of a dead man’s hand. This should be the hand of a malefactor immediately after execution. Persons with wens, it was recalled, attended the gallows on the occasion of a hanging to make trial of this method.

      9. Catch a live mole, make its nose bleed and cross the wen nine times with a finger dipped in its blood. The mole is allowed to go, and should take the wen away with it.

      10. Or the mole can be cut in halves, applied to the wen all night and buried afterwards. As it decays the wen should disappear.

      11. Get someone to give you nine hairs from a stallion’s tail. You must not say thank you nor pay for it. Fasten them in a bag in a little plait, and wear it round your neck until the bag wears out.

      12. Use a Good Friday Bun, cut it in half, dip the two halves in hot water and apply them as a poultice tied round the neck. When the bun is buried, as it moulders the wen will disappear.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Bill, you’re a hoot!

        I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of those remedies could also stave off a cold. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to try.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t even want to THINK about how much money I’ve plowed into my crafting. When I first started rubber stamping I used to keep track of how many cards I made (using $3 each as the benchmark); after all these years and a studio full of paper, stamps, stamp pads, ribbons, glue and glitter, I’m guessing my cards have averaged a cost to me of way over $3!

    But it still is my best stress-reliever!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Would like to comment more. Have a blog idea, may try, not sure worth the price. Last night discovered new level of pain that took me to at least Jupiter. I am feeling very weird. Last Thursday had two sets of shots in my spine, which put me face down for close to two hours. My back but more so my neck does not like the supine position. Yesterday was feeling better from shots so cleaned the apartment. Think that did me in. Could not find a position last might in which I was not in terrible pain. Slept in dribs and drabs. At 7:30 this morning fell into fitful sleep. After a while my head was exploding. Thought was some neurological effect from neck, which I am having. Woke up at 9:30 and smelled something. They had to clean the hall in front of us with a strong solvent. Maintenance man had all doors open, but I was gone. Right leg day s numb on the outside from hip down. Foot has very little feeling. Company passed through for two hour visit on way home to Missouri. Tomorrow will have to demand attention from orthopedic clinic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. chris when is hopkins
    i may be able to do rosemont but hopkins is a goal

    is this the book i pre read a year ago?
    looking forward to it. did you tweak it at all or is it as i last saw it?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. what do i do for personal rewards?
    turns out everything
    my financial rewards are deferred gratification

    i try to choose stuff i love as a rule and it’s not tough because i’m easily mesmerized buy a bright and shiny object

    i have 5 current business models in motion currently and all are cooking with gas

    i love my multifaceted dimension and tolerate not being a hired hand in order to work with the sob in the mirror

    non profit fundraising platform is an easy one to point out. finally ready to go
    only need a couple extra days in the week

    top item on my to do list is find those days of the week

    Liked by 3 people

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