An Index to the Website
may be found by clicking here.



New WordPress Blog!

I've set up a new WordPress blog (with the help of my web-wrangler) because it gives me more options than the blog on this website, including the ability to post more photos, the ability to link with social media across the web, and a subscription service that sends a dandy version of the blog directly to your email inbox. Try it out.

Notes from a Western Life at WindbreakHouse.WordPress.com

You can continue to read the blogs here, however a few of the very long blogs under the category of "Writing: Where I've Been" will only appear on the WordPress blog.



An Index of Blog Topics
may be found lower down in this left-hand column so, for example, you can search for all blogs with "Writing Suggestions."

A dated archive of blogs is also available below the index.

Click here to jump to the index, or scroll down to see a selection of photos related to the blog posts.






Blacksmith or Wordsmith

Iron legs from yesteryear.

Smaller iron items inside.

The scrap-iron table.



Dust, Grass, and Writing

Like the native grasses, the roots of writing go deep and reach out in many directions.

Tough prairie grass roots splitting open a rock.

Green life may be found under dry debris.


Fringed Jacket Foofaraw

Turtle carved from bone.

Turtle made of silver.

Warrior Woman pin.

George's grizzly bear claw earring.

Powwow jingle cones made of tin.

Brass bell.

A tiny dream catcher.

Harley Owners' Group pin in honor of Jerry.

Wally McRae's cufflink and tooth.





South Dakota Poet Laureate? Not Right Now, Thanks.


"An older writer, conscious of his or her limited life span, may have specific projects in mind to complete. Thus, requiring that the Poet Laureate travel and teach extensively may exclude older writers regardless of their worthiness to hold the position."



Don't just click "like" about some political story you read.


Pick up the phone or write a letter and make a difference.



Ah! The Bathtub.

A brass hook on a nearby wall to hold my robe or a towel.

A removable wire basket stretches across the tub to hold my soap and sponges.



Windbreak House
Now on Facebook.


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.

www.Facebook.com/​WindbreakHouse

No kitten videos, but I post Tuesday Writing Tips, Wednesday Word Posts, and various other writing-related stories, announcements, book reviews, photos and the occasional joke.



Ah, Spring!


Want to know more about this critter?

See the Gallimaufry Page for more about the bird, including more photos, and some odds and ends that don't fit anywhere else on this website.



More Stories and Essays by Linda
may be found on this website.

* Home Page Message archives
Many of these essays have writing advice. All have photos, some have recipes, a few have poems.

* Poetry Page essays
Read suggestions for writing and performing poetry and the stories behind some of Linda's poems.

* Critter Stories
Brief stories and photos of birds and wildlife seen on Linda's ranch may be found on this page.

* Gallimaufry Page
Stories and photos that don't fit anywhere else.



Linda on YouTube

Nancy Curtis, publisher and owner of High Plains Press, recorded a couple of videos of Linda reading her poetry and posted them on YouTube.

To see Linda read "Where the Stories Come From"
click here.

To see Linda read her poem "Make a Hand"
click here

Or go to www.YouTube.com and search for Linda Hasselstrom.

You may also want to visit the High Plains Press facebook page where you will find these two poetry videos and much more about the many great western books-- poetry and non-fiction-- published by High Plains Press.

Thanks, Nancy!

# # #





Index of Blog Topics

e.g. Fiction, History, Magazine Articles, etc. goes here
Very brief description goes here

Quick Links

Find Authors

Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog



When I Discovered Mari Sandoz

May 2, 2014

Tags: Writer: Mari Sandoz, Family: Father, Inspiration for Writing

Linda with Mari Sandoz sculpture, 2004
at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, Chadron, Nebraska.

. . .
No doubt it was my father who introduced me to Mari Sandoz, maybe by handing me a copy of Old Jules without realizing his resemblance to the title character. I clearly recall shivering because I recognized her home place; I knew the hills and plants and coyotes and buzzards and people who were the subjects of her fiction and nonfiction because they so closely resembled the inhabitants of the western Dakota prairie ranch where I lived. At five years old, I’d gotten a library pass and begun reading books, but that was my first realization that someone like her-- someone like me-- might write them.

Studying Western history and literature in college, I asked why her work wasn't included-- and only then realized that almost no women appeared as authorities in those studies. The writing lords of the same era were always men: A. B. Guthrie, Walter Van Tilburg Clark and Stanley Vestal. I found their views narrower than Mari’s, their writing competent but less stimulating.

Older, I learned to relish Sandoz's careful research and historical accuracy, even in her fiction. More important to me was her deeply personal knowledge of the grasslands, and her demonstration that in understanding a small community, one may learn and relate important universal truths. Likewise, she prepared me for being treated as a several minorities-- as a woman, a westerner, a grasslands resident, and a rancher-- by publishers.

When I began writing about my own life on the prairie, my father ferociously objected, and even quoted Old Jules, insisting that writers and artists are the “maggots of society.” But Sandoz hadn't quit writing, so I didn't either.

Sandoz also fought for respect as an expert in information unknown to many editors, publishers, and readers. She was an authority on homesteading the Nebraska plains because she’d lived it. So I've had to defend my knowledge as a working rancher to editors who have never set foot on prairie grass, never met a cow, never hefted a firearm. In both cases, editors felt free to contradict knowledge we gained from direct and sometimes painful experience.

When I read Mari’s collected letters, I kept saying, “Yes!” in agreement with her answers to readers who disagreed with her, lectured her, and asked her for help. When my pile of mail threatens to bury me in a paper avalanche, I quote her: “I either answer letters or write books-- never both.” Yet Mari wrote hundreds of letters, offering friendship and encouragement to other writers, and perhaps gaining validation of her work, and relief from the solitude of writing. I've tried to emulate her generosity as well, helping other writers, especially those in the very minorities where Mari and I found our writing selves.

By the time I read Crazy Horse, I’d had my own strange experiences while researching the strange man of the Oglalas; and at the Custer battle site, I’d argued with authorities who at that time refused to stock her book The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

When Mari Sandoz died in 1966, I sat at a desk in a newspaper office and cried. I’d always fantasized that I might meet her, tell her directly that she was the only writer I’d found able to convey my feelings about the Great Plains and its people.

Still, though I never heard her voice, I have continued to learn from her, from her writing, her research, her letters, and most of all, her spirit.

# # #

Note: This essay was originally published in the StoryCatcher newsletter, May 2010.

For more information:

See the website for The Mari Sandoz Heritage Society at www.MariSandoz.org
The Mari Sandoz Heritage Society publishes the Story Catcher newsletter four times per year-- they are archived on their website.
Stories about people's connections to Mari Sandoz are a regular feature.

Also see the website www.SandozCenter.com

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