I first encountered Linda’s work through her widely read series of three books, The Wind Anthologies. The first book, Leaning into the Wind, is a collection of essays written by regular working women – not writers – who live and work on the land. Three writers, Linda and two others, then collected, edited and sought publication for the books.
Those books were the first time I was exposed to dozens and dozens of women who, like my mother, made their living working on the land. It took what can sometimes be a lonely life, isolated by rural space and day-to-day busyness and rushed in a host of female counterparts who I could relate to so deeply!
Fast forward a few years, I moved to South Dakota and discovered that Linda lives in South Dakota, too. I started reading more of her books that I picked up at the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings. I started hunting around online for more information and more of her books. Finally, I discovered that she’s just on the other side of the state and she offers writing retreats for women at her ranch.
I was delighted with my discovery!
I emailed her my thousands and thousands of words of stories from three or four voices and multiple generations and she reviewed each line carefully, coaching out gently a structure to our pile of family stories.
It was her guidance that helped put the two books in my voice, with the other characters visiting with me. It was her direction that put the stories into chronological order and confirmed that Jon’s idea for short, easy-reading chapters would suit the audience best.
I met with Linda at a retreat when I was pregnant with Joslyn. I can’t remember if I even knew I was pregnant or not, but I do remember I hated all of the food I packed to eat during the retreat!
As soon as I finish breastfeeding J.D., as a treat and a celebration of being un-latched, I’m planning to travel back to Windbreak House for a second writing retreat.
Here’s what Linda had to say about Sheep, Stetsons & Stockyards: Stories on Surviving Change, a book she helped nurture into existence:
Packed full of rollicking stories, laughter, and history, Sheep, Stetsons & Stockyards will keep you turning pages until you feel as if you’ve been sitting in a worn chair listening to three generations of the author’s family talk about their businesses of raising and selling cattle, sheep and hogs, operating sale barns, and running a western wear store. This is regional history at its best, centered on families in Kansas and Missouri and told by a descendant of these enterprising folks who had a lot of fun while they were trying to make a living for their families. And Sierra, besides being born to this life, married into a family of farmers and cattlemen, so the stories should keep coming. The book is well illustrated with historic photos from the 1940s to modern times.