Category Archives: books

Another World

[Begun Friday past: ]

I am not turning on the TV till this evening.  I spent most of the past two days allowing myself to surf the tube: the limited stations we get with our basic cable, which you have to have to get any reception here in Winona, because of the bluffs. I am down – nay, flattened – with a virus, onset early Wed. morning. This hardly ever happens to me, and I’m a little out of my element. Of course I have several books/magazines I could be reading, but nnnooooh, my brain would rather veg out. So I started flipping channels.

If you’ve been “grounded” for any reason, you probably know about this:  daytime television is one of the strangest places on the planet. You have your soap operas, your game shows, your talk shows, your day-court shows, and your Dr. shows (Oz, Phil). And now thanks to Decades, we are treated once again to such gems as Donna Reed and Petticoat Junction. MeTV gives us Saved by the Bell, and Mama’s Family, which I didn’t watch, and Matlock and Diagnosis Murder, which I did. There are two or three channels full of all manner of Westerns (who knew there that many of them?). I saw a Gunsmoke and a Wild Wild West. Can’t recall where I ran into Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, but I’d much rather watch Broderick Crawford (Highway Patrol, late 50s)!

It’s probably just as well we don’t get any of the Movie channels.

There are a few bright spots – I can always watch an episode of I Love Lucy or M*A*S*H, and Laugh-in is still a hoot, but one a day is plenty. And for some reason I can still watch Dick Cavett… he was one classy interviewer. PBS has some episodes of Home Fires, one of my favorites, Last of the Summer Wine (for Clyde), plus cooking shows, some Rick Steves travel, some crafts like origami, and Paint This with Gary Yarnell, that I would watch any old time.

What do you do with your down time if you’re laid up for a while?

 

 

MONEY IS NOT THE ONLY MOTIVATION

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.

GIVING DAY

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 chrisnorbury.com or like my FB author page.

 

 

The Subscription

Last week my Scientific American came with a big “LAST ISSUE” notification. I’ve been putting off renewing it; it’s a little expensive and, truth be told, I don’t always understand what I’m reading. But it was an interest I shared with my dad and I’m sure I would miss it.

Do you have fond memories of any magazines?

Cautionary Tales

My son and daughter in law have asked for some children’s books for their baby shower.  I plan to give them many of the books we have at home.  They have been used for both son and daughter, and are a little worn, but they are still wonderful.  I will not, however,  give them any of the stories I ran across the other day-German cautionary tales by Heinrich Hoffman. This is how Wikipedia describes them:

Der Struwwelpeter (“shock-headed Peter”) is an 1845 German children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way.[1]The title of the first story provides the title of the whole book. Der Struwwelpeter is one of the earliest books for children that combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format, and is considered a precursor to comic books.[2]

  1. Struwwelpeter describes a boy who does not groom himself properly and is consequently unpopular.
  2. In Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich (“the story of wicked Frederick”), a violent boy terrorizes animals and people. Eventually he is bitten by a dog, who goes on to eat the boy’s sausage while he is bedridden.
  3. In Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug (“the very sad story of the matches”), a girl plays with matches and burns to death.
  4. In Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben (“the story of the black boys”), Nikolas (or “Agrippa” in some translations)[6] catches three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, he dips them in black ink.
  5. Die Geschichte von dem wilden Jäger (“the story of the wild huntsman”) is the only story not primarily focused on children. In it, a hare steals a hunter’s musket and eyeglasses and begins to hunt the hunter. In the ensuing chaos, the hare’s child is burned by hot coffee and the hunter falls into a well.
  6. In Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher (“the story of the thumb-sucker”), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.
  7. Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar (“the story of Soup-Kaspar”) begins as Kaspar (or “Augustus” in some translations), a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.
  8. In Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Philipp (“the story of fidgety Philip”), a boy who won’t sit still at dinner accidentally knocks all of the food onto the floor, to his parents’ great displeasure.
  9. Die Geschichte von Hans Guck-in-die-Luft (“the story of Johnny Look-at-Air”) concerns a boy who habitually fails to watch where he’s walking. One day he walks into a river; he is soon rescued, but his writing-book drifts away.
  10. In Die Geschichte vom fliegenden Robert (“the story of flying Robert”), a boy goes outside during a storm. The wind catches his umbrella and lifts him high into the air. The story ends with the boy sailing into the distance.

Not the most comforting books to get little ones to sleep.

What were your favorite books from your childhood? What are your favorite children’s books now?

Everything Old is New Again

Husband read this to me the other night. It is from Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant. He is describing a 19th century railroad baron. Remind you of anyone we know?

With his handsome blond mustache, bloated frame, and  diamond rings, the flashy Jim Fisk was the antithesis of the saturnine Gould. The son of a Vermont peddler, he collected prostitutes and chorus girls no less promiscuously than he bought railroads and steamships and exulted in the attention his flamboyance aroused. Such was his roguish charm that people were captivated even as they were horrified by his total lack of scruples. As George Templeton Strong sketched him: ‘Illiterate, vulgar, unprincipled, profligate, always making himself conspicuously ridiculous by some piece of flagrant ostentation, he was, nevertheless, freehanded with his stolen money, and possessed, moreover, a certain magnetism of geniality that attracted to him people who were not particular about the decency of their associates ‘.   Chernow, R. (2017),  p 673.  Grant. Penguin Press: New York.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  What trends from the past would you like to see again?

Unread Books

Today we celebrate the birthdays of Charles Dickens and Sinclair Lewis.  They are both acclaimed authors, and I know the plots of many of  the books they wrote, but I can’t say I have ever read one of their novels from start to finish.  I am not proud of that.

What books have you not read  that you wish you had read? What makes it hard to read the books?

Carousel

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline

I think it was back in October, when I was too busy with my mom to even be occasionally on the trail, and was catching up days or weeks after a post was current, that the topic of carousels was raised in a post about something else. Anyway it was too long after the fact for me to comment by the time I read it, but I did have something to say, so here we go. Has anyone been to  Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota? http://www.larktoys.com/carousel/

When we first started going there, I think when my 40-something daughters were a pre- and young teen, the carousel was in process and you could sometimes watch the carver working on the individual animals. They are all hand carved from large hunks of beech-wood, and stained, not painted. The intricacy of the carving is fantastic. When it was being carved, there were informational posters on-site and one of the things I partially remember reading was that Merry-Go-Rounds had only horses and Carousels had many different animals. This one was originally going to have 4 horses, one representing each primary compass direction; North, South, East, and West. I believe by the time the mechanicals were sourced and acquired, some of the carved masterpieces had to be left off the final collection to keep the weight down. I think only one or two horses made the cut, and a moose and several other larger pieces are now displayed in the building, but not on the actual carousel. The horses are beautiful, but the dragon, the goat, the goldfish family, and others are works of an amazing imagination. You could study the goat for an hour and not notice all of the intricacies hidden in it’s depths.

The entire complex is wonderful. There’s a children’s book store; a toy store with a model train running on a long track high up and around the perimeter of the store. Among other wonderful, unique and creative toys, is a huge collection of hand puppets. A Christmas shop, an antique toy museum that has every toy you or your cousins or friends had as a kid, a boomer toy store that carries replicas of many of your old toys, a candy store, an ice cream stand, and a mini golf course in the summer, are all part of the magical experience.

The original owners lived nearby and walked their pot-belly pig (his name was Gip, (Pig backwards)) to the store every morning to take up his supervisory post in a large open home away from home in the building.

The complex changed hands probably about 10 years ago (maybe longer ago, time flies when you’re old) but the current owners seem dedicated of maintaining the original spirit of the experience. Kellogg is south of Wabasha and north of Winona on Highway 61. BiR, you must have been there, possibly even posted about it, and I missed it. This hidden jewel is well worth a day trip with children, grandchildren, or nostalgic boomers. I haven’t been there for several years, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to make the trek soon.

Where do you go for a day trip?