Welcome to Windbreak House.
Celebrating 20 Years of Writing Retreats! (1996 - 2016)
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!
If the first two weeks of the year are a good indicator, 2017 will be a busy year for 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
* * *
Winter Nights Were Meant for Writing.
Early sunsets are the perfect excuse to head inside and cozy up to your computer.
A winter evening at the Writing Retreat: the sun slides down behind the Black Hills as the sky above the snow-blotched grasslands to the east takes on a momentary rosy glow before it shades to a dusky blue.
Is it the nighttime chill or the great-horned owl hooting in the windbreak trees behind the retreat house that makes you shiver? Perhaps later you'll step outside bundled warm in a blanket and inhale the cold starlight, listening for coyote song, but now the golden glow of the house lights call.
Enter the retreat house, slip out of your boots, heat some water for a good cup of your favorite brew.
It's only 5 pm so you have hours of good writing time ahead of you.
The retreat house is comfortable in any weather: it has a sturdy propane furnace for the cold months and has many electric fans for the dog days of summer. Out in the country the air always cools down at night, even after a scorching summer day, so the windows can be opened in the evening as "country air-conditioning." Despite the sunny warm days of fall, at night you'll be glad for the cozy quilts and blankets on each bed, and the fuzzy lap robes and throws on the couch and chairs.
If you can't make the drive to my prairie ranch, we can still work on your writing together through a Writing Conversation by eMail.
* * *
A November evening on the grasslands.
Autumn and winter are wonderful times to go for a walk on the ranch surrounding the retreat house.
** You won't overheat on the unshaded grasslands.
** Deer and pronghorn antelope gather in herds that are easier to observe; they're bolder because they don't have babies to protect.
** The grasses turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange, maroon, rust, and brown in the autumn.
** Prairie wildflowers have dried on the stem and can be collected into rustic bouquets.
** The great-horned owls come to the ranch yard to hunt rabbits; winter is their mating season so you'll hear them hooting once dusk arrives.
** Limestone, granite and quartz rocks are more easily seen in the sparse winter grass.
** You don't have to worry about wasps or rattlesnakes in cold weather and the cactus are shriveled up, less likely to prickle you as you walk cross-country.
** After a snowfall you can read the story of all the animals in the tracks they leave.
** The snow by moonlight is magical-- a dusting of fairy-sized stars.
Ask to see the Homestead House binder with hiking 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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