Boxflap Episode 005: Games!

Episode 005 Box Artifacts

Listen to episode 005 of Boxflap here:

Also available on Spotify!

From the Box: original version of Crossed Legs
From the Box: Eerily accurate prediction of the current Covid pandemic.

Drop me a voice-mail with your Think Off 3 categories and responses!

Boxflap Episode 004

Alchemy & Blacksmithing

EPISODE 004 now available:–Alchemy-edu0k6/a-a25rtp1

Here are the Box Artifacts for episode 004!

The journal from The Box. The Foshay Tower in Minneapolis.
The story sketch about the alchemist, Nicholas Flamel.
The ladle I forged as a boy while apprenticing with Tom Latane at Pioneer Park in Annandale, Minnesota. See the cute cat ears?
Random Box Artifact Bonus: the Teletubbies get a spooky new cast member: Edgar Allen Poe.

Drop me a voice-mail!

Boxflap Episode 003 and Box Artifacts

Episode 003 now available:

Box Artifacts

The spooky memento.

As a leftie, sometimes I flip a page to write from the outer margin toward the spine.
I happened to read this the day before my bachelor party. P.s. my best man got a DUI later that night.
Another Jim Northrup artifact from the Box.

Hobby Farm: Not Many Hobbies

Have you ever been inside a Hobby Lobby? The first time I went, I was very disappointed. They didn’t have anything that remotely resembled my hobbies. No power tools. No commemorative spoons. And no postage stamps.

Well, moving to a hobby farm is a lot like walking into a Hobby Lobby.

Because I live on a hobby farm, you’d think my stamp collection would be organized by now.

Heck, one of the main reasons my wife and I moved out of St. Paul was so we’d have more time for hobbies, like modern Albanian interpretive dance, drainage ditch snorkeling, and soccer – or as it’s known in Europe: “American soccer.”

Now we’ve got five acres down here on the Minnesota-Iowa border, and my stamp collection is shoved in the back of a crawlspace, and we haven’t worn our snorkel masks since last year’s spring flood in the basement when we were looking for the washing machine.

The thing we didn’t understand when we bought our hobby farm was that you don’t get to do your old hobbies on a hobby farm. None of them.

You get to do a bunch of new hobbies. Now, some cynical folks would call these new hobbies “chores”, but to be honest: would you buy a place called a chore farm? Of course, not. The real estate agent stopped short of calling the property a Fun! Fun! Fun! Farm, so at least we were half-prepared.

All of the new backbreaking chores hobbies are very rewarding, though. Like birdwatching.

We do a lot of birdwatching. Chickens are birds. We have thirteen laying hens, and they have their own outdoor yard behind the barn. We watch them a lot. We call their open area Chicken Wonderland.

Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get bock-bock tonight.

They run up to us like toddler t-rex dinosaurs. They’re so excited to see us – well, they’re excited to see if they can rip off one of my fingers if I don’t feed them their scratch seed fast enough. And God forbid if you’re a mouse in the chicken coop. It’s like Jurassic Park in there.

Chickens will chase down mice like a velociraptor hunting a Hollywood actor.

Another chore hobby is tree identification, as in: what the heck kind of tree did I plant there last year?

We’ve been planting a lot of trees and shrubs over the past two years. Some for windbreaks but a lot for nuts and berries.

Hoping we didn’t plant any of these naughty pines.

We’re talking about a lot of trees. 700. That may sound pretty cool to you if you’ve never planted 700 trees, but here’s the thing: 700 trees need 700 holes dug. It’s moments like those when I look up across the landscape and think, “God I wish I had kids so they could dig all these holes.”

Fitting postage stamps into cellophane protective sleeves sure sounds pretty good when your back is aching and your shovel is like a magnet for all the big rocks in the field.

And then some idiot (me) ordered more another 100 trees and shrubs again this year. But I guess I’m a masochist tree-enthusiast.

The one hobby we did bring with us from our city life was gardening. Now we just have a much bigger garden, especially when you realize that dandelions are actually really nutritious.

I’m one of those Johnny Appleseed types – do you know that story? Johnny Appleseed had a bag full of apples and he went around the countryside, spreading his seed, and then an entire generation of farm kids looked just like him.

The face of the next generation in rural Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In all seriousness, moving out of the city to the middle of nowhere was the best move we could have made. It’s definitely not for everyone, and there’s a lot of stuff we had to learn with more to learn in the future. It was always a dream of ours to have a little land and raise as much of our own food as we could, but doing it – actually making the leap – was tough.

But we did it, and it’s been two years of enjoying our new chores hobbies in the middle of nowhere. Plus the State of Minnesota pays us to keep those sneaky Iowegians from sneaking across the border.


If you like Minnesota-based humor, please check out Minnesota Up the Back Door! It’s burning up the charts on Amazon right now, and you wouldn’t want to be the one crazy cat lady at book club who gets left out of the conversation.

The Day Minnesota Shuddered

Jesse Ventura.

I know. Even mentioning the name “Jesse Ventura” still makes some folks in Minnesota shudder.

Actual Minnesotan remembering Governor Jessie Ventura’s “Reign of Awesomeness”

He was elected Governor of Minnesota in an upset 1999 election. Jesse was, of course, a former professional wrestler (“The Body”), professional wrestling commentator (“The Mouth”), and went on to co-star in the 1987 movie classic Predator (“The Blain”). His big line in that movie was, “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

Not a gun. Actually a potato ricer.

I’m sorry, but that is a very Minnesotan way to think.

Your hubcaps could have just spun off from hitting a pothole on highway 100, the hood flies up so you can’t see, and your exhaust system is shooting flames. You’re not pulling over – you’ve got to get to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre because you don’t want to end up sitting on a log bench way in the back all night.

You ain’t got time to bleed.

He was our first movie actor to be elected, and he became Governor before Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California (2003-2011). Of course, Ronald Reagan already broken the technicolor barrier as both California Governor and as President of the whole shooting match.

But Jessie was our celebrity Governor, and we hated it!

Actual Minnesota shedding actual Minnesotan tears after Jesse Ventura was elected as Governor.

I think that has to do with our overdeveloped sense of shame. Minnesotans don’t like to be noticed, and if we secretly do want attention, it’s through humble-bragging.

“No big whoop, but I just invented the first pop-up toaster. Might be kind of neat.” (Charles Strite, Stillwater, MN 1912)

“Oh that? That’s just autopilot that I invented. You know, so them pilots can take a smoke break.” (Honeywell, 1942)

“Just cleared the driveway for my neighbor with this new snowblower thingie. Nothing to it really. It’s really just a lawnmower for snow.” (Toro, 1951)

So when this audacious 6’4″ celebrity suddenly is standing behind a podium that says “Minnesota Governor”, who’s going to stop him? We’re waaaaay too passive-aggressive to try to physically remove a big guy like that. We thought we’d just let him have his say, and then he’d wander off to co-star in another movie like Predator 3 (which actually was called Predators because apparently those aliens kept reproducing. It makes you wonder though, with those cloaking devices, how can the predators see each other to make babies for sequels? Plus they’re kind of ugly when they do take off their cloaks. Must be a lot of schnapps involved there.)

Does a cloaking device count as a layer of clothing? #askingforaMNfriend

But Jesse served his full term and didn’t break anything too bad. I’m pretty sure when the next governor, Tim Pawlenty, moved into the Governor’s Mansion on Summit Avenue, he expected to find the mansion in less-than-pristine condition.

What Tim Pawlenty expected to find when he moved into the Minnesota Governor’s Mansion.

But the Venturas got their full deposit back apparently, so that was good.

Not to get too political – but I personally was happy that Jesse got elected. I told people, like my mom (God rest her soul), that Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey didn’t need extra votes. It was time to send a message to St. Paul! And to those wimpy 49 other states, too!

My mom was so pee-o’d the day after the election, because I’d talked her into voting for this third-party pro wrestler. And he won!

“I didn’t think he would win, Chaunce!” she said, practically sobbing into the phone. “Don’t tell anyone I voted for him.”

“Okay, mom,” I agreed. “Your secret is safe with me.”

(Please don’t tell anyone else that I told you about how my mom voted for Jesse Ventura. I’m pretty sure she’d still get mad about it.)

My mom, Helen Stanton, in the March of Voter Shame

Here’s the thing: before the election, none of the media was taking Jesse Ventura seriously. I remember being so mad at the television when I watched an interview on public television’s Almanac broadcast where he was marginalized. It wasn’t very polite how they treated him, and if we know anything as Minnesotans it’s to be polite to people even if you hate them.

I think Jesus said that in the Bible.

So when Jesse Ventura won, I didn’t care if he was going to blow the state budget on elastic onesies and headbands. It was just good to wipe that smug expression off of Eric Eskola’s face for once.


Looking for Minnesota Humor?

Check out Minnesota Up the Back Door. It’s not too bad. And it’s available exclusively on Kindle.

Follow Chaunce Stanton on Facebook.

Calling All Historical Fiction Readers!

Are you always on the prowl for a good historical fiction novel? Would you like to help authors “up their game” in creating compelling historical fiction you’ll love?

I’m collaborating with other writers of historical fiction to create a guide for authors who are beginning their own forays into writing historical fiction.

There are many other books devoted to this topic, but I’m adding a twist. YOU! The Reader!

Oftentimes authors write how-to books based on their own journeys to the completion of very arduous literary feats, and they recount the techniques and resources that worked for them. That’s a very helpful approach – inspirational, even – to other writers who are struggling just to complete their first novel; however, this creates a writer-only echo chamber that typically excludes the reader.

And so, dear reader, I’m asking you to aid in a better future of writing about the past. In the form below, would you please answer any or all of the questions listed below? And please let me know if you’d be willing to let me contact you for follow up.

  • On average, how many historical fiction novels do you read each year?
  • Do you read any particular subgenres of historical fiction?
  • What do you enjoy most about reading historical fiction?
  • What are some examples of the historical fiction novels you’ve enjoyed?
  • Is there any historical fiction novel that you have read more than once?
  • What are your biggest pet peeves in historical fiction novels?
  • Do you prefer historical accuracy in your reading, or do you prefer a compelling storyline, even if it contravenes “known historical fact”?

Although my writing is almost exclusively fiction (and my next book, Grave of Songs, is another historical fiction novel), this project is non-fiction and will focus exclusively on the craft of writing historical fiction.

Thank you for your time!

Chaunce Stanton

Top 10 Best Sellers 100 Years Ago

1920 is a hundred years ago already? Time flies with so much to read.

I was curious: what were the best-selling books 100 years ago in 1920? Thanks to this handy list from Publishers Weekly, I now know!

I have maybe heard of one or two of these titles, but seeing this book covers makes me want to check them out. Next time I’m gem-hunting at the antiques stores, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

Remember: 1920 was still the era of the silent movie. Most of these were snatched up for conversion into silent film, a medium hungry for content, much like the Netflix of today, only with more eyeliner.


#10 Harriet and the PiperΒ byΒ Kathleen Norris

#9 The Lamp in the Desert by Ethel M. Dell

#8 The Great ImpersonationΒ byΒ E. Phillips Oppenheim

#7 The PortygeeΒ byΒ Joseph C. Lincoln

#6 Mary-MarieΒ byΒ Eleanor H. Porter

#5 A Man for the AgesΒ byΒ Irving Bacheller

#4 The River’s EndΒ byΒ James Oliver Curwood

#3 The Re-Creation of Brian KentΒ byΒ Harold Bell Wright

#2 Kindred of the DustΒ byΒ Peter B. Kyne

#1 The Man of the ForestΒ byΒ Zane Grey

How About You?

Which of these top 10 best sellers from 1920 would you most likely give a chance 100 years later?


Do you ever have the dream where you discover that your house has an “extra” room you never knew about?

16 years ago I wrote my second novel. Apparently.

This past weekend I was organizing a big batch of hard-copy creativity: journals, short stories, poems, songs, cartoons, essays, and novel sketches. Some was hand-scrawled on napkins.

Then I found a stack of 264 pages.

An entire novel.* A novel I had completely forgotten about.

I remember outlining this story and researching and contemplating it, but I don’t remember writing it, and I don’t remember just setting it aside to languish in the same box as my cartoon drawings of talking cats.

While I’m very excited to have re-discovered this novel, called the Queen of Snows, it presents an entirely unexpected project. Now I need to get it scanned and converted using optical character recognition (OCR), because I have no idea where the digital version would be. I need to re-read the novel from a structure and flow level. Then re-write and edit the document. Hire an editor. Get a cover.

This comes at a time when I’m workshopping and editing my third fourth novel, Grave of Songs. First world problem, I guess.

Do you have that dream where you discover an extra room in your house? This was a real-life version of that dream. The lesson here for writers who are a little earlier on in their writing is: get those novels written. Don’t get stalled on your first novel, because your best novels are yet to be written, and you won’t get those other ones until you finish the first one. And the second one. And the third one.

Keep going.

*Entire novel. Entire, except the final four pages are missing. I will need to rewrite those from scratch.