Windbreak House Writing Retreats
Celebrating 20 Years of Writing Retreats! (1996 - 2016)
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 a link to a blog post written by a writer who attended a retreat in January, 2016.
How to Apply
Small Groups Welcome
Available Retreat Dates for 2016
These dates last updated Friday, May 24, 2016.
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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What's So Great About a Writing 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.
"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.
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.
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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
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.
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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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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2016 Available Retreat Dates
(These dates were updated May 24, 2016)
For a typical 4-day retreat you will arrive the afternoon of day 1 and depart by noon of day 4.
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.
Now that Linda lives at Windbreak House full-time, she is willing and able to host retreats year 'round. If you're snowed in, we don't charge for the extra day 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 2016
Linda is scheduled to speak to groups of Road Scholar students on select Fridays from mid-May through late September. Because the talks will be in the morning a half-hour drive from Windbreak House, Linda will tweak the retreat schedule a bit for those weeks as follows: retreats will run Monday through Thursdays so that 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.
As an alternative, if you would like your retreat to include a Road Scholar Friday (remember Linda's retreat schedule is flexible) you can either stay at the retreat house and work on your writing that morning and meet with Linda later in the day, or you could accompany Linda to the talk (no additional charge)-- learn a bit about ranching in western South Dakota and study how she performs her poetry to an audience.
Here is a link for information about the Road Scholar program in the Black Hills.
For further information about any of Linda's other events listed below, see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
Available retreat dates:
The Great Horned Owls often court each other on cold January nights; lovely deep hooting.
There was a full moon on Saturday the 23rd.
January 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
January 5 - 8 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
January 8 - 11 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Homestead House was in use this weekend.
January 12 - 15 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
January 15 - 18 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
One writer attended a writing retreat this weekend. Because of predicted bad weather on Friday she arrived a day early and beat the storm.
Linda will be as flexible for you!
January 19 - 22 --- (Tues - Fri) — available
January 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) — available
January 26 - 29 --- (Tues - Fri) — available
January 29 - February 1 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year, Tuesday, February 2nd is Brigid’s Day; also known as Candlemas or Groundhog Day.
The full moon was on Monday the 22nd.
2016 is a Leap Year, so February has 29 days.
February 2 - 5 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
February 5 - 8 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
February 9 - 12 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
February 12 - 15 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
February 16 - 19 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
February 19 - 22 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
February 23 - 26 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
February 26 - 29 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
MARCH *** MARCH *** MARCH
Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday the 13th – spring forward an hour and enjoy more daylight in the evening.
Sunday, March 20th is the Spring Equinox.
Meadowlarks returned a week early this year because of the mild weather.
There will be a full moon on Wednesday the 23rd.
March 1 - 4 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
March 4 - 7 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda presented a program on Saturday, March 5th for the Custer County Historical Society, Custer, SD, about James Clyman and the Mountain Men. For more information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
March 8 - 11 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
March 11 - 14 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
March 15 - 18 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
March 18 - 21 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
March 22 - 25 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
March 25 - 28 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
March 29 - April 1 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
APRIL *** APRIL *** APRIL
There will be a full moon on Friday the 22nd. Depending on the weather, the barn swallows will return around that same time.
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year, April 30th is Beltane (May Eve).
April 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda participated in a Journey Museum Learning Forum on grassland issues and ranching, with author and bison-rancher Dan O'Brien, in Rapid City, SD on Sunday, April 3rd. A good crowd showed up and joined in the discussion about how to preserve the unique High Plains grasslands. For more information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
April 5 - 8 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
April 8 - 11 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda presented a program on Sunday afternoon, April 10th, for the Black Hills Corral of the Westerners International, about James Clyman and the Mountain Men. For more information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
April 12 - 15 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
April 15 - 18 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda prepared for the WyoPoets workshop this weekend.
April 19 - 22 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Linda conducted a reading and poetry workshops for WyoPoets in Riverton, WY on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23. For more information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
April 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda conducted a reading and poetry workshops for WyoPoets in Riverton, WY on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23.
April 26 - 29 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
April 29 - May 2 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
MAY *** MAY *** MAY
There was a full moon on Saturday the 21st.
May 2 - 5 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
One writer attended a Writing Retreat this week.
May 6 - 9 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
The Retreat House was in use this weekend.
May 9 - 12 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
May 13 - 16 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda spoke to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, May 13th.
May 16 - 19 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
One writer attended a week-long Writing Retreat beginning Wednesday, May 18th.
May 20 - 23 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
One writer attended a week-long Writing Retreat including this weekend. Linda spoke to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, May 20th. As a retreat bonus, the Retreat Writer, who is working on poetry, attended the Road Scholar class to study how Linda performs her poetry to an audience and she learned a bit about ranching and the grasslands in this region.
May 23 - 26 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
One writer attended a week-long Writing Retreat which ended on Wednesday morning, May 25th.
Linda will be hosting a college class on the evening of May 25th for a talk about writing and ranching on the plains.
May 27 - 30 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, May 27th.
May 30 - June 2 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
JUNE *** JUNE *** JUNE
Nighthawks, the last bird to arrive after winter, usually show up the first week of June.
There will be a full moon on Monday the 20th, which is also the Summer Solstice.
May 30 - June 2 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
Two writers will arrive on Thursday for a retreat this weekend
June 2- 6 --- (Thursday - Monday) ---
Two writers are scheduled to attend a writing retreat this weekend and will arrive a day early because of their driving and research schedule.
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, June 3rd.
June 6 - 9 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
Two other writers are scheduled to attend a writing retreat this week.
June 10 - 13 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, June 10th.
Homestead House will be in use this weekend.
June 13 - 16 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
June 17 - 20 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, June 17th.
June 20 - 23 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- potentially available-- email with Linda about this date.
Monday evening Homestead House will host "Gather the Women," a celebration of the Summer Solstice.
June 24 - 27 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, June 24th.
June 27 - 30 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
JULY *** JULY *** JULY
The Fourth of July is a Monday this year.
A full moon will occur on Tuesday the 19th.
July 1 - 4 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
One writer is scheduled to attend a retreat this weekend.
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, July 1st.
July 5 - 8 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
July 8 - 11 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
July 11 - 14 --- (Mon - Thurs) ---
This week in July pending until Linda's family schedule is settled.
July 15 - 18 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, July 15th.
This weekend in July pending until Linda's family schedule is settled.
July 18 - 21 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
July 22 - 25 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, July 22nd.
July 26 - 29 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
July 29 - Aug 1 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Two writers and a musician are scheduled to attend a writing retreat this weekend.
AUGUST *** AUGUST *** AUGUST
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year, August 1st is Lammas, the end of summer and the beginning of the fall harvest season.
There will be a full moon on Thursday the 18th.
August 1 - 4 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
August 5 - 8 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, August 5th.
August 9 - 12 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
August 12 - 15 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
August 15 - 18 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
August 19 - 22 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, August 19th.
August 22 - 25 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
August 26 - 29 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, August 26th.
August 29 - Sept 1 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
SEPTEMBER *** SEPTEMBER *** SEPTEMBER
Labor Day is Monday the 5th.
There will be a full moon on Friday the 16th.
The Fall Equinox will be on Thursday, September 22nd.
August 29 - Sept 1 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
September 2 - 5 --- (Fri - Mon) — available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, September 2nd.
September 5 - 8 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
September 9 - 12 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, September 9th.
September 12 - 15 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
September 16 - 19 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, September 16th.
September 19 - 22 --- (Mon - Thurs) --- available
September 23 - 26 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
Linda will be speaking to a Road Scholar class on Friday morning, September 23rd.
September 27 - 30 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
OCTOBER *** OCTOBER *** OCTOBER
Columbus Day (celebrated in South Dakota as Native American Day) is on Monday the 10th.
There will be a full moon on Sunday the 16th
For those of you reading Linda’s book The Wheel of the Year, Samhain, the 31st, will be on a Monday this year. This day marks the beginning of winter.
September 30 - October 3 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
October 4 - 7 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Linda will be preparing for writing workshops and round-table discussions at the 2nd annual Hill City Area Arts Council’s Writers’ Workshop beginning Friday.
October 7 - 10 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be conducting writing workshops and round-table discussions at the 2nd annual Hill City Area Arts Council’s Writers’ Workshop this weekend. For more information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
October 11 - 14 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Linda will be catching up after her Hill City workshop and preparing for her HAHA Storytellers event.
October 14 - 17 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Linda will be coordinating the Hermosa Storytellers this weekend, an annual event for HAHA (Hermosa Arts and History Association). For more information see "Where in the World is Linda M. Hasselstrom?"
October 18 - 21 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
October 21 - 24 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
October 25 - 28 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
October 28 - 31 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
NOVEMBER *** NOVEMBER *** NOVEMBER
Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 6th – fall back an hour and sunrise comes earlier.
There will be a full moon on the 14th.
Thanksgiving is Thursday the 24th.
November 1 - 4 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
November 4 - 7 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
November 8 - 11 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
November 11 - 14 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
November 15 - 18 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
November 18 - 21 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
November 22 - 25 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Thanksgiving Week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.
November 25 - 28 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Post-Thanksgiving Weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.
November 29 - December 2 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
DECEMBER *** DECEMBER *** DECEMBER
The last full moon of the year will be on Tuesday, December 13th.
The Winter Solstice is on Wednesday the 21st; then the days begin to lengthen.
Christmas, the 25th, is on a Sunday this year.
New Year’s Eve is Saturday night, December 31st.
November 29 - December 2 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
December 2 - 5 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
December 6 - 9 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
December 9 - 12 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
December 13 - 16 --- (Tues - Fri) --- available
December 16 - 19 --- (Fri - Mon) --- available
December 20 - 23 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Pre-Christmas week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.
December 23 - 26 --- (Fri - Mon) ---
Christmas weekend pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.
December 27 - 30 --- (Tues - Fri) ---
Post-Christmas week pending until Linda’s family schedule is settled.
December 30 - January 2 --- (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 Retreat Fees
A typical 4-day retreat costs $450.00 which includes your work with Linda and three nights lodging, state sales tax included.
-- 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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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.
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.
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.
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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