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Windbreak House Writing Retreats

Celebrating 23 Years of Writing Retreats! (Founded 1996)

Welcome to your Writing Retreat!
Peaceful writing time awaits you at the Writing Retreat, inside at a desk or table or outside at one of the many seating options.

What's Here?

Here are all the practical details you need to know about attending a Windbreak House writing retreat. Click on the topics listed here or just scroll down and read them in order.

What's So Great About a Writing Retreat?
Includes links to blog stories about Windbreak House.

How to Apply

Small Groups Welcome

Writing Retreat Fees
Explains the basic fee for a typical 4-day retreat and lists other options.

Available Retreat Dates for 2019
These dates last updated September 12, 2019.

Scheduling Your Retreat Date

Ask Us About...

A Typical Retreat Schedule

Windbreak House Rules

Commendations by Retreat Participants


For More . . .

See the Homestead House page in the Books & More Section of this website for a photo tour, a history of Homestead House, and more information about the retreat house and its surroundings.

See the Windbreak House Writing Retreats page for essays and articles about the Writing Retreats, information about various retreat participants and more.

See the Ask Linda Page for some questions and answers about the Writing Retreat experience.

Don't find what you want to know? Post your own question on the Ask Linda Page or send us an e-mail using the link in the left-hand column of this website.

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Personal Consultations:
Linda offers individual sessions to help you plan your retreat and accomplish your writing goals.

What's So Great About a Writing Retreat at Windbreak House?

Windbreak House retreats are unique because we shape each retreat to fit the participants, with written appraisals of each writer's work, suggestions on reading, and private conferences on revision. Retreat guests may also choose to exchange comments with each other, read in my library, use my research files, and walk in the surrounding grasslands.
-- Linda M. Hasselstrom


During your residency at Windbreak House your time is your own.

You can eat whatever you want when you want, and you won't have to wash laundry, sweep the floor, mow the lawn, or answer the telephone. You can linger in the bathroom, soaking in a warm bath, and no one will knock on the door asking when you will be out. You can have hours of peaceful writing time, uninterrupted by someone else's demands on your time or the annoyance of regular household noises such as loud music or a blaring TV.

You don't have to do much of anything except write-- unless you choose to walk on the prairie, listening to the wind in the buffalo grass; sit in the yard in one of the many outdoor chairs and enjoy the birds while dusk softens the end of the day; or watch from your bedroom window as a 13-lined ground squirrel gathers seeds for the winter ahead.

When you are ready to discuss your writing, Linda will be there, encouraging, showing you by example how she has carved a writing life out of ordinary occurrences.

We do the laundry for you!

Because Windbreak House is a writing retreat, not a workshop, there is no set class schedule. Linda helps you learn more about your own work habits and needs, and offers analysis and comments on your writing. Linda uses handouts and written notes to help you absorb these lessons so you can work more efficiently after you leave the retreat. You and Linda will decide together whether you should work with other writers who may be in residence at the same time, and what you most want to gain from the retreat experience. While you are at Windbreak House, Linda's comments on your work will be her highest priority.

Linda does expect each writer to come to Windbreak House with a specific set of expectations and goals, and to communicate them to her. Linda's job is to help you achieve those goals.


Read stories of what's so great about Windbreak House Writing Retreats

I recently wrote a blog about having a successful writing retreat.
www.windbreakhouse.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/read-revise-relax-six-steps-to-a-successful-retreat-at-windbreak-house

Susan wrote a blog about her January, 2016 writing retreat-- you'll get a few writing tips while you enjoy reading about her experience.
www.writingwyoming.com/2016/02/lessons-from-writing-retreat


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How to Apply, Deadline, and Selection Process


Application Procedure for Writing Retreats

1. From the calendar of available retreat dates, choose at least three dates you could come to Windbreak House to allow Linda some leeway in scheduling. List them in order of your preference. Linda is flexible-- if you'd prefer a longer retreat, or a retreat that runs other than the suggestions listed (Tuesday through Friday or Friday through Monday) just ask. The sooner you select a date the better chance you'll have that your favorite date will be open.


2. Send up to 20 pages of poetry or nonfiction, published or unpublished, so that Linda can evaluate your writing and see how best she can help you-- whether you're a complete novice or an accomplished writer. If you want Linda to write comments on your submission if you are accepted, please say so.

The best writing sample to send is all or a portion of the project you would like to work on during your writing retreat. That gives Linda a head start on reading and commenting on your work and you'll have her initial feedback on the first day of the retreat.

Linda prefers this writing sample be sent via e-mail attachment, since that allows her to use her computer to write her comments directly into your text-- that takes her less time so she can be more thorough. Linda can open Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or generic text documents. Please do not send a .pages document or a zip drive (can't open them). Please do not send a pdf because Linda cannot write comments in the text. You can mail Linda a flash drive (thumb drive) if your manuscript has many photos, making it too large for an attachment.


3. Write a paragraph describing what you want from your retreat:

-- Linda's line-by-line comments on your work
-- an exchange of ideas with Linda and any other writers
-- help on the organization and/or editing of your work
-- advice on publishing
-- solitary time to write
-- other?

Please list them in order of your preference. Linda uses this paragraph to help her plan the retreat and to match up like-minded applicants if possible.


4. Please describe any physical condition requiring special equipment or care. Windbreak House is not easily wheelchair-accessible because of entrance steps, but we will try to make each writer comfortable.


5. Include your e-mail address and telephone number so that we may contact you with questions. Include your mailing address so we can send your retreat packet once your retreat is scheduled.



No Deadline

Applications are considered year around, however, those who apply far in advance are most likely to attend on their preferred dates.

Each applicant is notified of Linda’s decision as soon as possible, though sometimes there is a slight delay as we coordinate Linda's schedule with any retreat applications.



Selection

In choosing writers who will work with her at Windbreak House, Linda considers an applicant’s writing samples, goals, and retreat plans. Her decisions are final.

If possible, Linda matches the needs, abilities, and plans of writers applying to attend, so that they may share the retreat if they choose to do so. Some writers enjoy having company at meals, during writing breaks and on hikes. Other writers prefer solitude.



You May Come Again

A writer who has attended one retreat at Windbreak House may apply for a return visit, at a lower cost.

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The gang heads back to Homestead House after a hike.

Small Groups Welcome

We offer a 5% discount each off the regular retreat fee for two people coming together and a 10% discount each for three or more coming together, so you can save some money by signing up with a friend or two. (And you can save even more money by carpooling.) We've had mothers and daughters, a husband and wife, members of the same writing group, and just plain old friends who each like to write. Linda is willing to have mixed-gender groups if the applicants wish it.

Homestead House has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Meadowlark, the largest of the three bedrooms, has a twin-sized bed but also a full-sized futon couch that can be used as a second bed, if two people don't mind sharing the room.

Linda enjoys working with small groups. Some want to cover a specific topic of interest to the group during the retreat; some want to learn how to work together back home as a writing group, giving useful feedback and encouragement to each other. And Linda always is available for individual writing help during a group retreat.

If you're interested in coming with a friend or two, just follow the same application guidelines, but let us know you're applying together, and let us know in your paragraph if you want to work as a group or individually.

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Writing Discussions Outside
Homestead House is nicely shaded by trees and has plenty of outdoor seating.

Writing Retreat Fees

A typical 4-day retreat (arrive Day 1 and depart Day 4) costs $550.00 which includes your work with Linda and three nights lodging, state sales tax included.

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Fee includes
-- Comfortable private room with work space.
-- Linda’s evaluation, advice and encouragement at every stage of your writing.
-- An opportunity to exchange comments with other writers in residence, if you desire.
-- Linda’s suggestions for creating a retreat at home and finding time to write in your usual life.
-- Handouts applicable to your writing goals, to be perused at your leisure when you return home.
No one leaves without handouts!
-- Access to the Windbreak House reference library and teaching files. A copy machine is on the premises.
-- Good conversation with others passionate about writing.
-- Quiet time to write and recharge your creativity.
-- Freedom to explore and experience the prairie.


Fee does not include
-- Travel. However, we can provide shuttle service, for a moderate fee, from the Rapid City airport or bus station if necessary, stopping for you to buy groceries for your stay.
-- Meals. Bring your own food (we’ll offer helpful hints) and prepare meals in the fully-equipped house kitchen.


Small Group Discounts
5% discount each off the regular retreat fee for two people coming together.
10% discount each for three or more coming together.

Sign up with a friend or two to save money and enjoy the retreat experience together.
And you'll save even more money by carpooling!

Small groups will also benefit from Linda's suggestions on how to give writing support to each other once you return home.


Want More Time To Write?
Longer retreats are available for an increased fee. Work with Linda for a full week. Or spend part of the time alone at Windbreak House to concentrate on your writing without any interruptions.


Money Well Spent
Read some comments by writers who have attended Windbreak House retreats in the "Commendations" section.

A Windbreak House retreat is a great deal -- where else will you get full-time individual help and encouragement from such an experienced, skillful and beneficial teacher of writing for such a reasonable fee?


Payment
If you are accepted to Windbreak House, a $25 deposit is due at once to hold your reservation. Full payment is due upon receipt of the retreat packet, at least one month before your retreat.


Have A Change In Plans?
If you are unable to attend your scheduled retreat, notify Windbreak House as soon as possible. We will try to fill your reserved place and arrange for you to attend at another time. If you cancel less than one month before your reserved retreat date, your deposit may not be returned.


Is Your Budget Tight?
Ask your state arts council, your employer, or, if you are a teacher, your school, if you can obtain a grant for a retreat to enhance your professional skills. The South Dakota Arts Council told us they sometimes have money going unused that could be granted for just this type of program.

You can also work with Linda online, saving the cost of travel, lodging and meals. Writing Conversations by Email may not be as relaxing as a retreat to the ranch, but you will find Linda's written comments on your work to be useful and inspiring, whether you receive them during a retreat or via email. See the Online Writing Help Page for complete details on how to sign up for a Writing Conversation by eMail.



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"Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"The Wheel of the Year: A Writer's Workbook2019 Available Retreat Dates

(Last update September 12th, 2019)


For a typical 4-day retreat you will arrive the afternoon of Day 1 and depart by noon of Day 4.

For further information about any of Linda's events listed below, see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"

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Click a month to see the available dates or scroll down
January -- February -- March
April -- May -- June
July -- August -- September
October -- November -- December

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JANUARY *** JANUARY *** JANUARY
The great horned owls often court each other on cold January nights; lovely deep hooting may be heard in the trees surrounding Homestead House.
There was a full moon on January 21st.


January 1 - 4 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

January 4 - 7 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

January 8 - 11 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

January 11 - 14 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
The Retreat House was in use this weekend for a small group retreat.

January 15 - 18 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

January 18 - 21 --- (Fri - Mon) — available

January 22 - 25 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

January 25 - 28 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

January 29 – February 1 --- (Tues - Fri) — available


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FEBRUARY *** FEBRUARY *** FBRUARY
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook, Saturday, February 2nd is Brigid’s Day; also known as Candlemas or Groundhog Day.
There was a full moon on February 19th.


January 29 – February 1 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

February 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

February 5 - 8 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

February 8 - 11 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

February 12 - 15 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

February 15 - 18 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

February 19- 22 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

February 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

February 26 – March 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available


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MARCH *** MARCH *** MARCH
Daylight Saving Time began Sunday the 10th – spring forward an hour and enjoy more daylight in the evening.
Wednesday, March 20th was the Spring Equinox. Meadowlarks usually return just before the Equinox and begin to sing within days of arrival, but this year, with below average temperatures, they stayed south a little longer.

There was a full moon on March 21st.


February 26 – March 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

March 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

March 5 - 8 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

March 8 - 11 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

March 12 - 15 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

Linda spoke to the Friends of the Hill City Library in Hill City, SD, on the morning of March 13th. To learn more see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"

March 16 - 19 --- (Fri - Mon) --- 

Linda conducted a free all-day Journal-Writing Workshop in Hermosa, SD on Saturday, March 16th, sponsored by the Hermosa Arts & History Association (HAHA) and the Hermosa Library. For information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"

March 19 - 22 --- (Tues - Fri) --- 

Linda was otherwise occupied this week.

March 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

March 26 - 29 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

 

March 29 - April 1 --- (Fri - Tues) --- available


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APRIL *** APRIL *** APRIL

There was a full moon on Friday the 19th.

The barn swallows usually return during the last weeks of April, but in 2019 they waited until early May. They need temperatures that support the tiny flying insects they eat.
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook, April 30th is Beltane (May Eve).


March 29 - April 1 --- (Fri - Tues) --- available

April 2 - 5 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

April 5 - 8 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

April 9 - 12 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

April 12 - 15 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

April 16 - 19 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

April 19 - 22 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

April 23 - 26 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

April 26 - 29 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda participated in the Hermosa Arts and History Association's spring event on Saturday, April 27th.

 

April 30 - May 3 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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MAY *** MAY *** MAY
There was a full moon on Saturday the 18th.

The windbreaks of lilacs bloomed the last 2 weeks of May-- gorgeous with a heavenly scent.
Nighthawks, the last bird to arrive after winter, waited until early June to arrive, due to cool temperatures.

April 30 - May 3 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

May 3 - 6 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

May 7 - 10 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

May 10 - 13 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

May 14 - 17 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

May 17 - 20 --- (Fri - Mon) --- 
Linda was busy this weekend, participating in an event for the Hermosa Arts and History Association (HAHA).

May 21 - 24 --- (Tues - Fri) ---available

May 24 - 27 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

May 28 - 31 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

 

May 31 - June 3 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available


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JUNE *** JUNE *** JUNE
Nighthawks, the last bird to arrive after winter, arrived in early June as we warmed up a bit.

There was a full moon on Monday the 17th.
The Summer Solstice was on Friday, June 21st. Read about it in Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook, and try some of the writing exercises just for fun.

May 31 - June 3 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available


June 4 - 7 --- (Tues - Fri) --- 

One writer stayed at the Retreat house beginning Wednesday, June 5th.

June 7 - 10 --- (Fri - Mon) --- 

One writer stayed at the Retreat house on Friday and Saturday nights (June 7th and 8th).


June 11 - 14 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

The nearby Great Plains Native Plant Society's garden held an open house. If you come for a retreat you are welcome to visit the garden at their headquarters and walk their mowed trails to view the native plants.

June 14 - 17 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

June 18 - 21 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

June 21 - 24 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

June 25 - 28 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

June 28 - July 1 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available


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JULY *** JULY *** JULY
The Fourth of July is a Thursday this year. Sorry, due to the danger of grass fires no fireworks may be used on the ranch in the summer.
A full moon shone down on Tuesday the 16th.


June 28 – July 1 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 2 - 5 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

July 5 - 8 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 9 - 12 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

July 12 - 15 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 16 - 19 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

July 19 - 22 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 23 - 26 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

July 26 - 29 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 30 – August 2 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available


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AUGUST *** AUGUST *** AUGUST
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook, August 1st is Lammas, the end of summer and the beginning of the fall harvest season.
There was a full moon on Thursday the 15th.


July 30 – August 2 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

August 2 - 5 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

One writer attended a writing retreat this weekend.

August 6 - 9 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available with qualifications

The Custer County Fair runs August 9th to 11th and Linda volunteered some of her time at the local historical association booth.

August 9 - 12 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available with qualifications

August 13 - 16 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

August 16 - 19 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

August 20 - 23 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

August 23 - 26 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

August 27 - 30 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

August 30 - September 2 --- (Fri - Mon) — available


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SEPTEMBER *** SEPTEMBER *** SEPTEMBER

There will be a full moon on Saturday the 14th.

The Fall Equinox will be on Monday, September 23rd.


August 30 - September 2 --- (Fri - Mon) — available

September 3 - 6 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

September 6 - 9 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

September 10 - 13 --- (Tues - Fri) --- 

Linda is busy elsewhere this week


September 13 - 16 --- (Fri - Mon) --- 
Linda is busy elsewhere this weekend


September 17 - 20 --- (Tues - Fri) --- 
Linda is busy elsewhere this week


September 20 - 23 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

September 24 - 27 --- (Tues - Fri) ---

The Retreat House will be in use on September 25-26.

September 27 – 30 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available


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OCTOBER *** OCTOBER *** OCTOBER

There will be a full moon on Sunday the 13th.

Columbus Day (celebrated in South Dakota as Native American Day) is on Monday the 14th.
Halloween will be on Thursday this year. Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year: A Writer’s Workbook tells you about this holiday, also known as Samhain, which marks the beginning of winter.


October 1 - 4 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

October 4 - 7 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available with qualifications

Linda will attend the Custer County Historical Society's program on Saturday, Oct 5th in Custer, SD. You could either attend with her or stay at the retreat house and work on your writing.


October 8 - 11 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available


October 11 - 14 --- (Fri - Mon) ---

One writer is scheduled for a solitary retreat this weekend

October 15 - 18 --- (Tues - Fri) ---

One writer is scheduled for a solitary retreat this week

October 18 - 21 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

October 22 - 25 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

October 25 - 28 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

October 29 – November 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available


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NOVEMBER *** NOVEMBER *** NOVEMBER
Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 3rd – fall back an hour and sunrise comes earlier.

There will be a full moon on Tuesday the 12th.

Thanksgiving is Thursday the 28th.


October 29 – November 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

November 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

November 5 - 8 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

November 8 - 11 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

November 12 - 15 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

November 15 - 18 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

November 19 - 22 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

November 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

November 26 - 29 --- (Tues - Fri) --- 
Linda will celebrate with family this Thanksgiving.


November 29 – December 2 --- (Fri - Mon) --- 

Linda will be recuperating after Thanksgiving this weekend.


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DECEMBER *** DECEMBER *** DECEMBER

The last full moon of the year will be on Thursday, December 12th.

The Winter Solstice is on Sunday the 22nd; then the days begin to lengthen.
Christmas, the 25th, is on a Wednesday this year.
New Year’s Eve is Tuesday night, December 31st.



November 29 – December 2 --- (Fri - Mon) --- 

Linda will be recuperating after Thanksgiving this weekend.


December 3 - 6 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

December 6 - 9 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

December 10 - 13 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

December 13 - 16 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

December 17 - 20 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Pre-Christmas week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

December 20 - 23 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Pre-Christmas weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

December 24 - 27 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Christmas week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

December 27 - 30 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Post-Christmas and pre-New Year’s weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

 

December 31 - January 3 --- (Tues - Fri) ---

New Year's week pending until Linda's family schedule is settled.

 

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Bring your laptop if you have one
Revising your work is much easier with a word processor. Linda can exchange flashdrives with you.

Scheduling Your Retreat Date

Once you are accepted for a Windbreak House Writing Retreat, we will schedule your retreat based on your first three preferred retreat dates if at all possible.

The sooner you apply the better chance your favorite dates will still be available. As the retreat season progresses, retreats become filled and some dates are set aside for Linda's other work.

Once a retreat date is settled, Linda’s assistant, Tamara, provides additional information, including directions, an information handbook, and suggestions about what to bring and expect at a Windbreak House retreat.

If you can’t find a date that works, we’ll help you choose another for the following year. In the mean time, you are welcome to work with Linda from your home with a Writing Conversation by eMail.

See the Online Writing Help Page for complete details on how to sign up for a Writing Conversation by eMail.


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Ask Us About . . .


Small group writing retreat discounts--
Two or more writers who come to Windbreak House together will each receive a discount off the regular retreat fee. Sign up for a mother/daughter or husband/wife retreat. Bring your friend, your sister, or members of your writing group. Save travel expenses by carpooling and share the cooking duties.

Winter Retreats--
Retreats are held year 'round, though we usually schedule a backup retreat in case the weather precludes travel for your first choice of dates. If you are snowed in, we don't charge for the extra day you may need to stay while roads clear.

Week-long retreats or other customized dates to fit your schedule--
Linda is usually very flexible and able to accommodate your preferences.

Solitary retreats--
You may spend time writing alone at Windbreak House, without Linda’s consultation, between scheduled retreats.

Renting Windbreak House--
Host your own small-group retreats or seminars at Windbreak House.

Everyone welcome--
Although Windbreak House originally was a retreat only for women because everyone shared the same house and bathroom, once the retreats were moved to Homestead House in 2008 the retreats were available for men as well. Those under age 21 may apply to attend with an adult chaperon.

Accessibility--
For a description and photos of the Retreat House entry doors and bathrooms, see the Homestead House photo tour section on Accessibility.



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A Typical Retreat Schedule

Retreats are arranged according to the preferences of the writers attending. This retreat is unique in that Linda is available any time you wish to talk to her (within reason); Linda’s cell phone number is posted so you can call her to change meeting times as necessary.


FIRST DAY
Afternoon -- Please try to arrive between 2 and 3 pm so you have an hour or more to unpack, meet the other writers, if any, and settle into the retreat atmosphere before the 4 pm walk. Take time to arrange your room in the way that best suits you. Make any calls you need to make to let family know of your arrival, and then consider turning off your cell phone for the duration of the retreat. Each writer will define a successful retreat differently, but Linda believes that reasonable comfort, concentration, and plenty of uninterrupted time to think are essential.

4 pm -- Linda will lead an orientation walk in and around Homestead House. Be there! Linda will discuss such practical matters as how to light the stove, how to separate garbage and recyclable materials, and how to keep your room cooler on scorching summer days. We may do some form of relaxation exercise, possibly in combination with writing, to help you concentrate on the time you will spend here and push your usual life to the back of your mind. Linda will walk with you to the windbreak that shelters her house and provides the name (and the metaphor) for the retreats; she’ll make sure you know your directions and show you some good places for meditative walking.

5-6 pm -- Linda will come down from Windbreak House to have dinner with you, since dinner at Homestead House is considered legitimate writing time. After dinner we’ll discuss what each writer wants to achieve at the retreat. Be realistic about setting goals. Plan break time for relaxation, and to look at things available nowhere else: Linda’s library, the handout files, rough drafts. Browse through the photo albums; stroll into the unique prairie savanna: nothing else like this combination of grasses exists on earth.

In setting your goals before you come to retreat, consider the following questions: do you want to revise the work you submitted with your application and receive Linda’s comments on the revision? Do you have new work for Linda to evaluate? Do you want quiet time for writing? Do you want to exchange manuscripts with other writers in residence, if any, and plan to meet as a group to discuss each other’s work? We’ll schedule meeting times to discuss your application manuscripts.

Evening -- Solitude and silence are, Linda believes, essential to clear thinking, and thus to writing. Make time to sit outside and listen to the land, to the birds, to your own heartbeat, to the wind. Use the Homestead House star map to identify stars. Settle into the retreat atmosphere: no TV, no internet connection, no pets or family competing for your attention. Experience the true darkness of a prairie night. Visit with the other writers, but take time to sit quietly and think, the most important part of writing.


SECOND DAY
After breakfast -- Linda will walk down for coffee and return her written comments on the work you submitted so you may read them before individual meetings begin. Settle into observation, reflection, and writing. Take time to look around this unique site, take your journal somewhere outside, and simply sit, waiting for thoughts that may arise. If you would like to do specific writing exercises, please ask or look in the files in Meadowlark. Linda doesn’t make assignments unless you want them. If writers in residence wish to work together, we can organize evaluation sessions complete with handouts.

4 pm -- Tea (or the beverage of your choice) Time. Linda will gather all writers in residence briefly in the living room at Homestead House to review progress, and make any needed changes.

Naps: If you feel like napping, remember that you are expending a lot of mental energy and may have worked hard to prepare for your visit. In other words, naps can be important to refreshing your brain and spirit.


THIRD DAY
Linda will continue individual meetings as required, and offer suggestions and handout information on how to create a “retreat attitude” as well as writing time and space at home. This is a good time for questions about how you can work more effectively on your own.

4 pm -- Tea Time.

Evening -- If you choose, the group can meet to discuss new writing, perhaps reading new work.


FOURTH DAY
Morning -- Gather at the table to ask any questions, exchange addresses, and plan for continuing your writing at home. You may leave anytime you wish, but please let Linda know your plans as soon as possible so she can be prepared with last-minute handouts.

Be sure to complete the feedback/comment sheet in your room folder with your suggestions on what we might change to improve a writing retreat experience at Homestead House. And don’t forget to write at any length you choose in the Homestead House journal!


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Windbreak House Writing Retreat Rules


These rules ensure the health and safety of Windbreak House guests, the livestock and cowboys on the working ranch surrounding Homestead House, and the land itself. You are welcome at Windbreak House, but remember that the ranch is Linda’s home. Anyone who is disrespectful of her hospitality or property will be asked to leave.

-- No one under 21 years of age is permitted to attend a retreat without an adult chaperone, due to insurance concerns and liquor laws.

-- No illegal drugs allowed.

-- No smoking inside. If you absolutely have to smoke, you must smoke outside on the concrete patio, the gravel drive, or in your own vehicle only. And you must use the designated cans of sand to dispose of ashes and butts.

-- No visitors during the retreat. Friends or relatives are welcome to drop you off before 4pm on arrival day, and pick you up after 10am on the last day, but otherwise we try to keep the retreats from being disrupted as much as possible.

-- No pets. There are just too many ways they can be injured or eaten.

-- No riding, handling or harassing ranch livestock. We would suggest a similar rule apply to any wildlife you may encounter.

-- No parking or driving except on designated areas and roads. Erosion and fire are always a concern with vehicles. And you don't want to rip out your oil pan on a hidden rock.


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Commendations from Writers Who Have Worked at Windbreak House


"Linda, you are so centered and strong. You are realistic and firm and ethically professional and warm. You remind me of a tribal elder. You are one who speaks with wisdom and experience. One who passes the stories on. Your strength is the branch a green writer can perch on with wobbly legs and stretch her wings and test her flight. I will be forever grateful for the ways n which you listened to me. Thank you for your gift of your words, your time, and your spirit." --- Julie Ann Monroe, Illinois


“Your retreat is at once a sanctuary and a place of creative invention. You are user-friendly!”


"I really enjoy all the pillows, lamps, lap desks, so I can nestle in where I'm comfortable. Fantastic library, and other fun stuff, like the kaleidiscopes." -- Ruby


"It is interesting that I should hear from Windbreak House this week. Just last weekend, I was thinking that writing seems to be getting slightly easier for me. Often as I read and revise some piece of work, I can hear Linda's voice in my head suggesting, 'now, why don't you elaborate a little more on that' or 'show rather than tell your reader about that.'"


“The most important and empowering thing for me is to be in a house with a working writer. Together we generate energy which pushes each on, saying yes, this is important to do-- if not for the world, at least for you, here, now. Be here now.”


“Every time I sit down to write, I’m back on retreat!”


"I had the luxury-- and intense quiet beauty-- of this place all to myself. Seeing the great horned owl next to its nest first thing more or less set the tone for me-- whenever the writing got tough, the bird still stood there, neck swiveling, to bring me back to peace. . . . You truly helped set me on a new path."

“Attending your retreat is the best thing I’ve done since marrying my rancher. I wish everyone could have the opportunity you have afforded this old ranchwife.”


“You intuitively know what is needed for each group of women. You are blessed with a ‘knowing.’”


"I liked the quilt and lots of blankets, pillows, instructions about where to find things, comfortable chairs, binoculars so I could look at the wildlife. Loved the cows, different views in every direction, a working ranch and wildlife! I'd like to come back and compare seasons."


“I never thought one or two people could think of everything for everyone and make it work. The retreat is perfect.”


“Practical concrete help. I leave with no regrets, only satisfaction-- money well spent.”


“I like the way you let participants help create the agenda and mood. I appreciate your keeping us focused on our writing, and all your ideas for improving, for new projects. Sometimes it was overwhelming when you kept giving handouts and books, yet I really appreciate your sharing them with us.”


“The vastness, the openness of the landscape requires the same in me.”


“I feel like I have been home for the last few days. I came here feeling stressed, angry and depressed, ready to quit writing. I leave here renewed, centered, and excited about new writing projects.”


“Love the solitude and lack of distractions such as TV, telephone.”


“The place-mats and personal napkins add personality. I like that.”


“Gushing thanks for the most valuable, in-depth critique of my writing thus far in this life.”


“Thanks for the peace and wild winds of Dragonfly, for the quiet and outward vision of the south deck, for the prism of Windbreak House and its open invitation to absorb, focus, and define. Your piece of the prairie reflects the love of Life, its abundance and individuality, in an underlying and all-embracing respect for land, critter, and human-- a humbling and awe-inspiring accomplishment.”


“The copy machine is great. Everything is well organized, from the closets to the copy machine booklet to note copies made.”


“I think if you have never seen a thunderstorm this way, you've missed the best-- the blue-white cracks across the sky, the bolt that quivers in the ridgetop while the drummer rocks the concrete floor, the sweet cool rain carrying the scents of drying grass.”


“Thank you for sharing your land and your wisdom.”


“The magazine basket: I see what gets published, potential sites for my own work. More pleasurable than the Periodical Room of the Library.”


“Thanks for the challenges, the assignments which will benefit not only us as individual writers but our entire family.”


“You made us feel right at home.”


“No TV, no phony conversation with other writers.”


“Love the birds, the country, the conversation.”


“I liked best having a generous resident mentor who lives a productive literary life.”


“Personal attention and suggestions are probably the most helpful thing anyone has ever done for me and my writing.”


“What an incredible amount of resources you have gathered here, and how generous you are with all of it.”


“Thanks for your direction, critiques, books, articles and everything else. A weekend I’ll always treasure.”


“Thanks for offering me a chance. I've never had to be critiqued. Windbreak House has been a soothing balm for my frazzled mind. Thanks for keeping my city mind in retreat mode.”


“I enjoyed the bluets, nighthawks, killdeer and cowslips-- all of the surroundings of the house. I was pleased to produce a poem and hope that this will serve as the beginning of my keeping a steady journal and writing poetry.”


“How many writers get the opportunity to live and work with an esteemed author?”


“June 27, 1999: the day the clouds turned up a snipe nest and a few words blew into the heart of a woman and gusted out her hand.”


“I am changed.”


“Thank you for making time flow so slowly and fully my own.”


“Grass, peace, sun, wind, friends, pleasures-- what a wonderful home place.”


“Within the house I can also see, feel and learn from all of the other people who have visited here in the past. I learned so much about writing, me, my environment and the world in the past three days that I’m sure I will need new shocks on my car by the time I get to North Dakota!”


“Thank you for helping me collect my thoughts into poems, into essays, artfully. You are my feminist teacher, editor, writer, activist model. Your generosity is not a myth; it’s journalistic fact!”


“I loved living in Dragonfly with a firefly! You have all given me a renewed enthusiasm for writing.”


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For More . . .

See the Windbreak House Writing Retreats article and the Homestead House article on the Books & More Page for photos, a history of Homestead House, articles about Windbreak House Writing Retreats and more.

See the Ask Linda Page for some questions and answers about the Windbreak House Writing Retreat experience.

Don't find what you want to know? Post your own question for Linda.

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