Welcome to Windbreak House.
Celebrating 20+ Years of Writing Retreats! (founded 1996)
In the center of the nation, deep in the grasslands of western South Dakota, essayist and poet Linda M. Hasselstrom grew up as an only child on a family cattle ranch homesteaded by a Swedish cobbler in 1899.
Today she invites you to benefit from a writing retreat on that same ranch. Come to the house where she discovered the Great Plains outside her windows, where she began to write the poetry and non-fiction books that have established her as one of the strongest voices on behalf of the prairie.
Linda holds a BA in English and Journalism, an MA in American Literature, and has been a teacher of writing for more than 45 years. She has hosted writing retreats at her ranch since 1996.
Not a writer but a reader? Enjoy Linda's vivid descriptions of her life and work on the ranch, as a writer, and as an advocate for the preservation of the prairies and the people and wildlife who inhabit them.
Meet Linda on Youtube
For a brief introduction to Linda, her ranching life, her books, and the writing retreats, watch this Two-Minute Summary on Youtube
. You've read her words-- now hear her voice and see some images of the ranch and the writing retreat.
What's Happening at Windbreak House?
My Newest Book!
--- Write around Nature's calendar.
The Wheel of the Year: A Writer's Workbook
nonfiction, 2015, Red Dashboard Press
$22.95 -- paper
The Wheel of the Year
is structured with sixteen essays, one for each of the eight seasons through two years, with an intermission essay, “Respect Writing By Not Writing,” which discusses taking time off. Extensive writing suggestions are included, as well as additional resources. The workbook is intended as a guide and teacher as a writer sets up her own schedule of writing and develops a relationship with the natural and mundane worlds in which we live. If the reader came to a retreat at my Windbreak House Retreats, this might be a series of conversations we would have about writing.
All About the Book
--- Read some behind-the-scenes details about this book: Q&A with Linda, notes about content, information on the book jacket photo, and more.
Click here to go to The Wheel of the Year webpage.
If you would like to purchase an autographed copy from me, please send a check or money order for $28 to:
Linda M. Hasselstrom
PO Box 169
Hermosa SD 57744
Let me know if you would like me to personalize a message along with my signature.
The $28 covers media mail shipping & handling within the USA and any applicable sales tax.
New Season of Writing Retreats!
I'm looking forward to working with writers, at residential Writing Retreats and online Writing Conversations by eMail.
If you would like to spend some time writing at Windbreak House see the Retreats Page
for the list of available retreat dates in 2017 and all the details you need to know about applying for a writing retreat (working with me) or a solitary retreat (recharge your creativity and enjoy uninterrupted writing time).
If you can't take a retreat holiday because your time or your budget is tight, we can still have some productive writing fun together online. See the Online Writing Help Page
for complete details on how to sign up for a Writing Conversation by eMail.
New Retreat Blogs!
Susan wrote a blog about her January, 2016 writing retreat-- you'll get a few writing tips while you enjoy reading about her experience.
And I have a blog series about writing retreats.
Six Steps to a Successful Retreat at Windbreak House
Create Your Own Writing Retreat at Home
New Youtube Video!
In honor of National Poetry Month, and specifically National Cowboy Poetry Week (April 17th through the 23rd), I recorded some stories and readings as a tribute to Badger Clark, South Dakota's first Poet Laureate. I was inspired by a number of writers and poets during my childhood-- notably Mari Sandoz and Badger Clark, who each wrote about the west that I knew from my life on the ranch.
See my video about Badger Clark's poem "The Legend of Boastful Bill" here on Youtube
New Blog Posts!
My WordPress blog "Notes from a Western Life."
Come on over and sign up for a subscription.
My WordPress blog "Notes from a Western Life" allows me to include multiple photos, link with social media across the web, and offer you a free subscription that sends a dandy version of the blog directly to your email inbox. To subscribe click on any of these links to go to the blog, then scroll down and look for the subscription box in the right-hand column.
My Recent Blogs
"Deadline Met: Report on a Solitary Writing Retreat" -- posted December 16th
Mystery writer MK Coker came to Windbreak House for a solitary retreat in October, hoping to finish the final revisions on the most-recent book in the Dakota Mystery series in time for its November publisher deadline. Read the report on MK's time at the retreat and my notes about this great mystery series.
Read about MK's retreat and books here.
"Windbreak House Writing Retreats 20th Anniversary" series -- posted in December 2016 and January 2017
2016 was the 20th year I conducted writing retreats at my ranch home. Read this series of blogs for stories, photos, and many quotes by writers taken from the Retreat House journals. I have written 8 chapters and expect to write at least one more later this year.
Part 1 -- Beginnings
Part 2 -- Evolution
Part 3 -- Guidelines
Part 4 -- The People
Part 5 -- The Writing
Because it is time-consuming to update two blogs, I am phasing out the blog on this website to concentrate on my WordPress site. However, many older blogs are available on the Blog Page of this website which you will find by clicking here
In 2016 some of my writing appeared in various periodicals and books:
In "Writers on the Range," syndicated by High Country News ---
October 13, 2016 -- "Want to move to a charming rural town? Ask about the sewage disposal system"
Known elsewhere as "Don't Give Me That Sh*t," this opinion piece tells the story of my pasture land that abuts a small-town's sewage lagoon and what happes when the town grows faster than its infrastructure. Read it here
and then consider subscribing to High Country News
to support their important and well-researched journalism about the West.
Last year some of my work appeared in South Dakota Magazine ---
In the May/June issue, "Letters to Graduates"
My letter was one of a number chosen for publication. I wrote about my expectations for my life as I was graduating college, how I have accomplished some of my goals, and how I have come to believe that, as my father used to quote, "a man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be."
In the July/August issue, "Saving South Dakota's Birds of Prey: The Black Hills Raptor Center"
One of my favorite local non-profits, the Black Hills Raptor Center is in the process of expanding their mission of education of the public and rehabilitation of raptors and owls by building a new facility. I hope my article will bring them more publicity and donations. Chip in a little to help the birds, if you are so inclined.
See their website at BlackHillsRaptorCenter.org
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Let spring's rebirth inspire your writing.
The landscape sprouts and grows, while you cultivate your writing until it flourishes and blooms.
Meadowlarks, killdeer, red-winged blackbirds sing. My father wrote in his journal in April, 1979, “The air is full of bird music.”
A bluebird was clinging to the barbed wire fence near the house on a recent morning, looking alertly around. We pointed toward the bluebird nest boxes we’ve put up near both houses and hope the home-seeker finds them. The grass around the house just ripples with meadowlarks and blackbirds high-stepping as they catch bugs newly-woken by the sun. Beaks full, they leap into the air and zing away; sometimes it seems as if the air is woven with birds flying fast, busy at their work. The meadowlarks are probably crafting their grassy nests already, perhaps laying eggs.
Spring is an inspiring time to work at Windbreak House, as the world awakens after the cold, dark days of winter. The spring weather at Windbreak House offers warm sun, wind, rain, fog, and brief bouts of snow.
The retreat house is comfortable in any weather: it has a sturdy propane furnace, cozy quilts and blankets on each bed, and fuzzy lap robes and throws on the couch and chairs for the cold days. When the sun comes out you can throw open the windows and let the fresh spring air and bird song waft into the house.
If you can't make the drive to my prairie ranch this spring, we can still work on your writing together through a Writing Conversation by eMail.
* * *
Bird watching: a sport that can be done inside or outside.
Bird watching at Windbreak House.
If you're not already a bird watcher, you can sample this sport during your writing breaks, to see if you have a taste for it. The retreat house has a good selection of bird, animal, and plant identification books, as well as binoculars for your use.
Peer out the windows, step outside and sit on one of the comfortable cushioned chairs, stroll around the yard, take a longer walk on the ranch roads, or hike cross country in the grasslands. While bird watching you should use your ears as much as your eyes, so pause and listen every once in a while. Perhaps you'd rather use the binoculars to look for antelope on the far hills. Or maybe you prefer to search close to the ground for wildflowers or unique rocks.
Once you've given your eyes and brain a rest, you'll be able to return to your writing with renewed purpose.
Ask to see the Homestead House binder with hiking trail suggestions. Walking sticks are kept at the kitchen door or in the living room closet.
Let us know if you'd like a hiking partner. Linda's assistant Tam, and her large friendly dog Rue, are usually willing and able to accompany you if you'd prefer not to hike alone.
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Connect with Windbreak House on Facebook and with my WordPress Blog.
If you "Like" me on this Facebook page you'll get notifications of my newly-posted blogs as well as announcements about my books, writing retreats, and other events to do with Windbreak House.
No kitten videos, but I post Stories from the Writing Retreat and various other writing-related photos, announcements, book reviews, and the occasional joke. You can ask questions and exchange comments with me and other readers of the postings.
You can sign up to follow my WordPress Blog "Notes from a Western Life" here:
Once you've subscribed you will receive the blog in your email, complete with photos. The WordPress blog has the exact same content as the blog on this website, but WordPress allows me to post more photos throughout each entry.
And as a bonus, WordPress does not require you to decipher some squiggly words in order to post a comment. The first time you post a comment you must be approved by me (I know you won't deluge me with annoying spam about sunglasses and other products), but after that you are allowed to comment freely.
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