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Personalized Retreats

Create your own writing retreat at Windbreak House, where your primary purpose is working to improve your writing with the assistance of a full-time, award-winning author.

Linda holds a BA in English and Journalism, a MA in American Literature, and has been a teacher of writing for more than 40 years.

Linda at Homestead House, 2014

Linda at Homestead House, 2013.

Linda at Homestead House, 2011.

Linda at Homestead House, 2009.

Linda at Windbreak House, 1999.

What Might You Do During Your Writing Retreat?




Nap on the couch.

Write some more.


Discuss your writing with Linda.



And write even more.


Visiting writers who reincarnated Windbreak House became a community outside of space and time. The air crackles with energy during retreats, and we each go home with new respect for the power of writing. Some of us will unplug the telephone when we're writing, or leave the dishes in the sink or see the neighborhood more clearly. We are all connected by the ley lines of writing.

-- from Linda's book
No Place Like Home: Notes from a Western Life
the chapter entitled "Sounding the Writing Mudhole"
Published by the University of Nevada Press; 2009

What might you find during your writing retreat?

Writing handouts.

Writing files.

Many good books.

Space to spread out your work.

Time to read and relax.

Embroidered pillowcases.

Rechargeable crank flashlights.

Compost bin.

Dramatic storm clouds.
The view to the south from Homestead House. Yes, there is a basement in case of bad weather!

Tamed beauty by Homestead House.

Wild beauty on the prairie.

Quiet solitude.

Big sky.

Big moon.

A guide to the stars.

Cows and calves.



Quick Links

Find Authors

Windbreak House Writing Retreats

Celebrating 20 Years of Writing Retreats! (1996 - 2016)

Welcome to your Writing Retreat!

Linda at Homestead House after a spring snowstorm.
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.

A photo tour of Homestead House is available.
Click here for a tour and more information about the retreat house and its surroundings.
And take a look at the photos in the left-hand column of this page.

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

How to Apply

Small Groups Welcome

Available Retreat Dates for 2017
These dates last updated January 14th, 2017.

Writing Retreat Fees

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 for a photo tour and a history of Homestead House.

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 plans, 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.

Susan wrote a blog about her January, 2016 writing retreat-- you'll get a few writing tips while you enjoy reading about her experience.

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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 Tuesday through Friday, 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 on cd or via e-mail, 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. Paper is fine if necessary, however.

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 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 wheelchair-accessible because of stairs, but we will try to make each writer comfortable.

5. Include your address, telephone number and e-mail address so that we may contact you with questions.

6. If you don't have an e-mail address, enclose with your application a business-size envelope, self-addressed and bearing first class postage, so Linda can notify you of her decision.

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, but please allow 4 to 6 weeks.


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 the two or three women who attend each retreat, so that they may usefully exchange writing if they choose to do so.

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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2017 Available Retreat Dates
(These dates were updated January 14th, 2017)

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


Click a month to see the available dates or scroll down

January -- February -- March
April -- May -- June
July -- August -- September
October -- November -- December


Please Note: Linda is flexible in her retreat scheduling. If you would prefer a specific set of dates that do not necessarily run from Tuesday-Friday or Friday-Monday, or if you would like to extend your stay beyond the 4-day retreat, please ask if we can accommodate you.

Linda is willing to host retreats year 'round, but be aware we can have snowstorms from late September through early May. If you're snowed in, we don't charge for the extra day or two you may need to stay until roads clear out.

Linda's calendar is subject to frequent change. Some of the events marked below may end up being rescheduled or canceled; others may be added at a moment's notice. This is why we ask that you choose a second and third 4-day period as alternate retreat dates when you apply. We will do our best to find a retreat date that suits your schedule and Linda's. Any dates below marked "pending" are probably not available, though not yet confirmed. Check back later or select another date.

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


Road Scholar talks in 2017
Linda is scheduled to speak to groups of Road Scholar students on select Fridays from May through late September. Because the talks are on Friday mornings a good way from Windbreak House, Linda has changed the retreat schedule those months so retreats do not end on Friday mornings. That way Linda will not be in a hurry to leave on the final morning of the retreat.

However some of the Road Scholar classes may not fill, in which case Linda will have more flexibility in scheduling those weeks. Check back on this page for the updated list of available dates. We should know approximately 60 days in advance whether a Road Scholar class will be held.

Some writers whose retreats included a Friday have accompanied Linda to the class to hear a bit about the grasslands and ranching, and to enjoy-- and study-- Linda’s poetry performances.

Here is a link for information about the Road Scholar program in the Black Hills.


The great horned owls often court each other on cold January nights; lovely deep hooting may be heard in the windbreak around the retreat house.
There will be a full moon lighting up the snow on Thursday the 12th.

December 30 - January 2 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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

January 6 - 9 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda met with a couple other women at The Journey Museum to participate in a leadership discussion with some high school girls.

January 10 - 13 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
One writer attended a writing retreat this week.

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

January 17 - 20 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

January 20 - 23 --- (Fri - Mon) —
The retreat house will be in use this weekend.

January 24 - 27 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

January 27 - 30 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

January 31 – February 3 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

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Thursday, February 2nd is Groundhog Day. If you read Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year: A Writer's Workbook, you'll learn that this is also known as Brigid’s Day, the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
The full moon will be on Friday the 10th.

January 31 – February 3 --- (Tues - Fri) — available

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

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

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

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

February 17 - 20 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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

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

February 28 – March 3 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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There will be a full moon on Sunday the 12th.
Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday the 12th – spring forward an hour and enjoy more daylight in the evening.
Monday, March 20th is the Spring Equinox. Read about the ancient holiday of Eostar in Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year.
Meadowlarks usually return just before the Equinox and begin to sing within days of arrival.

February 28 – March 3 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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

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

March 10 - 13 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be speaking at the Journey Museum for Women's History Month

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

March 17 - 20 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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

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

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

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There will be a full moon on Tuesday the 11th.
Depending on the weather, the barn swallows will return the last week of April.
April 30th is Beltane (May Eve). Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year, has some stories and writing exercises for this season of new beginnings.

March 31 - April 3 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

April 4 - 7 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

April 7 - 10 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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

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

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

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

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

April 28 - May 1 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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MAY *** MAY *** MAY
There will be a full moon on Wednesday the 10th.

May 1 - 4 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

May 8 - 11 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

May 15 - 18 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

May 22 - 25 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
Linda will be otherwise occupied this week.

May 26 - 29 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be otherwise occupied this weekend.

May 29 - June 1 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
Linda will be otherwise occupied this week.

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Nighthawks, the last bird to arrive after winter, usually show up the first week of June.
There will be a full moon on Friday the 9th.
The Summer Solstice is on Wednesday, 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 29 - June 1 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

June 5 - 8 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

June 9 - 12 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

June 12 - 15 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

June 19 - 22 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- ask about availability
The Retreat House and yard will be in use for a "Gather the Women" Solstice celebration on the 21st

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

June 26 - 29 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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A full moon will light up the night on Sunday the 9th.

June 30 – July 3 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 3 - 6 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

July 7 - 10 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

July 10 - 13 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

July 17 - 20 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

July 24 - 27 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

July 28 - 31 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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August 1st is Lammas, the end of summer and the beginning of the fall harvest season. But you already knew that because you read about it in Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year.
There will be a full moon on Monday the 7th.
The Solar Eclipse on August 21st will occur shortly after 11:45 am, but will only be seen as a partial eclipse from Windbreak House. You need to be south of here (Nebraska) to be in the path of totality. Read more and see maps here.

July 31 - August 3 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

August 7 - 10 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

August 11 - 14 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

August 14 - 17 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

August 21 - 24 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

August 28 - 31 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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There will be a full moon on Wednesday the 6th.
The Fall Equinox will be on Friday, September 22nd. Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year has some stories and writing exercises for this season of change.

September 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) — available

September 4 - 7 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

September 11 - 14 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

September 18 - 21 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available

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

September 25 - 28 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- pending
Homestead House may be in use this week-- check back as we get closer to the date.

September 29 – October 2 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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The full moon will rise on Thursday the 5th.
Columbus Day (celebrated in South Dakota as Native American Day) is on Monday the 9th.
Halloween will be on Tuesday 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.

September 29 - October 2 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

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

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

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

October 13 - 16 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be coordinating the Hermosa Storytellers this weekend, an annual event for HAHA (Hermosa Arts and History Association).

October 17 - 20 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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

October 24 - 27 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

October 27 - 30 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

October 31 – November 3 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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There will be a frosty full moon on Saturday the 4th.
Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 5th – fall back an hour and sunrise comes earlier.
Thanksgiving is Thursday the 23rd.

October 31 – November 3 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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

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

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

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

November 17 - 20 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available

November 21 - 24 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Thanksgiving Week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

November 24 - 27 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Post-Thanksgiving Weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

November 28 - December 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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The last full moon of the year will be on Sunday, December 3rd.
The Winter Solstice is on Thursday the 21st; then the days begin to lengthen. In The Wheel of the Year, Linda writes of celebrating Yule in the deep winter.
Christmas, the 25th, is on a Monday this year, and New Year’s Eve is Sunday night, December 31st.

November 28 - December 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available

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

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

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

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

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

December 19 - 22 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Pre-Christmas week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

December 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Christmas weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

December 26 - 29 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Post-Christmas week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

December 29 - January 1 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
New Year’s weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.

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# # #

Remember: Linda is flexible in her retreat scheduling. If you would prefer a specific set of dates that do not necessarily run Tuesday-Friday or Friday-Monday, please ask if we can accommodate you.

Retreats longer than the typical four days are also available for an increased fee. Please ask.

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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 costs $550.00 which includes your work with Linda and three nights lodging, state sales tax included.


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!

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
See 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?

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

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 tells us they often have money going unused that could be granted for just this type of program.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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