Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie, Part II: Nostalgia

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 6.00.45 PMMy German husband has been to all 50 United States, and he’s found a geocache in every one. Although I’ve travelled quite a bit too, mostly with him but also with the family I grew up in, this trip was my first time in South Dakota. I got on one big plane at SFO airport, and then transferred to a small one in Denver, heading to Rapid City. There I rented a car and drove about a half hour south to the ranch where the retreat took place, just south of the small town of Hermosa. The normal schedule for these retreats is a half day, followed by two full days, followed by another half day. My flight schedule worked out that I got in late the night before the first half day, and rather than stay in a hotel in Rapid City, I added another night at Windbreak House. With the extra time in SD before the retreat started, I planned to do some sight-seeing and find a few geocaches.

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Book Review: Mindclone by David T Wolf

Mindclone: When You're a Brain Without a Body, Can You Still Be Called Human?Mindclone: When You’re a Brain Without a Body, Can You Still Be Called Human? by David T. Wolf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mindclone is possibly the best independently published SF novel that I have ever read. The author’s meticulous research into the field of Artificial Intelligence and his witty, accessible writing style made it a page turner that I was sorry to see end.

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Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie, Part I: Goals and Expectations

I had barely gotten back from Europe when I had to pack again to get ready for my writing retreat at Windbreak House. A gift from my parents for my birthday last December, the retreat had not been possible for me during the school year. But I had a short window while my kids were still away at German camp.

The Windbreak House writing retreat is close to Hermosa, SD, on a ranch owned by Linda Hasselstrom, whose relatives established and ran it before she did. She now leases her land to other ranchers and works as a writer and writing teacher full time. There have been writing retreats at Windbreak House for 20 years!

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Book Review: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a little late to this party, and I admit that I initially picked this book up simply as research for my SF novel set in the year 2074. I felt I needed a reality check. I wanted to know what experts thought the world would actually look like then, since we’re not there now and it’s unlikely I’ll be there to see it when we are. Continue reading Book Review: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

Mundane Monday: How much is that doggie in the window?

The song in the title of this blog was old even when I was a kid growing up in New York State. And even back then, I didn’t usually see doggies in the window: I saw them on the street, being walked, or up for adoption in shelters. People who wanted pure breeds got them from breeders.  Continue reading Mundane Monday: How much is that doggie in the window?

Read, Revise, Relax: Six Steps to a Successful Retreat at Windbreak House

Last December, for my birthday, my wonderful parents gifted me a Windbreak House writing retreat. They had met the author and teacher, Linda Hasselstrom, at a Road Scholar event when they were traveling to South Dakota. They enjoyed her presentation and her books, and sent me her collection of essays, no place like home, Notes from a Western Life.

I was unable to get away on my birthday itself, which is December 4, right at the end of youth soccer season, between Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo, and Christmas. But now, the middle of summer while orchestras are on hiatus and the kids are still at German Camp, I am going on a writing retreat! My husband and the cat will get to know each other better for a few days.

Linda has a blog about preparing for the retreat.

“While you are on retreat, write. Write until your fingers cramp and your eyes cross. This may be the best uninterrupted writing time you have ever had, so let your thoughts flow freely. Don’t hesitate. If you are unsure that what you are writing is worthwhile, follow the sage advice of poet William Stafford: “Lower your standards and keep writing.””

I’m getting ready 🙂

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“Little Writing Retreat on the Prairie” – The Set
–A series of blogs describing my experiences at Windbreak House, a women’s writing retreat in South Dakota run by Linda Hasselstrom

Notes from a Western Life

You’ve revised and ripped up drafts and read writing books and joined a writing group and sent out poems and received rejections and started a novel and thought about quitting this writing business and remembered how your high school English teacher said you were talented and read books on how to publish and watched interviews with successful writers who nod and look solemn while they give advice.

Good Retreat adYou’ve gone online to look at the websites of writing retreats from Maine to Malibu, from Switzerland to Saskatchewan, fantasizing about having a massage after a hard writing session, then relishing a catered lunch, followed by a nap, a glass of wine, and a stimulating discussion with other writers.

Now you’ve decided: what you really need is a writing retreat at Windbreak House. You looked over the website and Facebook page, you’ve sent in your application and yes! You’ve been accepted.

I…

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The Bird-Bid

I’ve been thinking a lot about communication within families lately. My kids are still at camp, so I don’t talk to them every day except to send them cat pictures and what I hope are encouraging words via Google Hangouts. This process has provided me with an opportunity to examine how well (or not well) I do on my end of it. Frankly, and a bit uncomfortably, I admit I feel like I’m struggling, and more so as they have grown up and entered their teen years.

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Book Review: Shining Ones, Legacy of the Sidhe

Author’s note: I read several books while traveling, on the plane, in the car, and otherwise between visits. I am also participating in an indie author promotion group for Science Fiction and Fantasy called Your Next Favorite Author (Twitter #YNFA), and some of the books I read come from that group. I will post reviews here once a week.

Shining Ones: Legacy of the SidheShining Ones: Legacy of the Sidhe by Sanna Hines

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shining Ones is a fun ride with lots of action and Irish lore. It is a daring, but not always successful, attempt at a modern quest fantasy using Irish mythology as a backdrop. Fans of the Percy Jackson series would enjoy this book, although it describes several adult situations that are not aimed at YA readers.

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Mundane Monday Travel: Paris streetlights

Our first night in Paris, we arrived during a rainstorm and were greeted by a rainbow as we left Orly.

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Taken through the window of a taxi, the Mundane Monday challenge in reverse: a transcendent object–a rainbow–framed by mundane traffic, roads, and buildings.

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