2016 Workshop Archive

FULL 2016 Program (PDF): StoryCatcher16Program

“Writing Wild”  Story Catcher Writing Retreat & Workshop

Thursday June 9th – Sunday June 12th 2016  Plan on joining us the second week of June for a great series of writing events centered around the theme of writing wild. Set in the beautiful Pine Ridge Region of Northwest Nebraska, we will gather to explore the untamed terrains of our lives: in nature and the outdoors, in our relationships with one another, in our place and purpose in the world.

Larissa Hastings (Photo by Daniel Binkard/Chadron State College)

The first two days will feature a RETREAT for advanced writers, set at historic Fort Robinson State Park. Events will take place in the historic buildings and scenic spots around the park, and participants will lodge in the 1890 Brick Officer Quarters. Renowned writers will lead morning sessions focused on crafting and improving our writing, followed by afternoon sessions designed to give participants a chance to create new work and receive feedback on that work during the retreat.

On Saturday we will meet on the campus of Chadron State College for the General Workshop where we will present a mix of hands-on workshops, critical feedback and inspiring instruction from acclaimed authors and teachers who are passionate about writing and can help you get published!

We will wrap it all up on Sunday with a festival celebrating the work of everyone involved in the workshop, from published authors to beginners.

Workshop Faculty

2016 Fiction Writer in Residence: Kim Barnesbarnes

Kim Barnes is the author of In the Kingdom of Men, named a best book of 2012 by San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, and The Oregonian, and long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, A Country Called Home, winner of the 2009 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, was named a best book of 2008 by The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, and The Oregonian. She is a recipient of the PEN/Jerard Award in nonfiction for her first memoir, In the Wilderness, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The New York Times, WSJ online, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Fourth Genre, Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, and the Pushcart Anthology. She is a professor of English in the MFA program at the University of Idaho.

In her most recent novel, In the Kingdom of Men, Barnes introduces us to Gin Mitchell who believes a better life awaits her when she marries hometown hero Mason McPhee. Raised in a two-room shack by her Oklahoma grandfather, a strict Methodist minister, Gin soon moves with Mason to Saudi Arabia where he takes a job with the Arabian American Oil. In the gated compound of Abqaiq, Gin and Mason are given a home with marble floors, a houseboy to cook their meals, a gardener to tend the sandy patch out back—even among the veiled women and strict laws of shariah, Gin’s life becomes the stuff of fairy tales. She buys her first swimsuit, she pierces her ears, and Mason gives her a glittering diamond ring. But when a young Bedouin woman is found dead, washed up on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Gin’s world closes in around her, and the one person she trusts is nowhere to be found.

“[In the Kingdom of Men] is something more than a novel about an [Oklahoman] who causes trouble in a foreign land. It’s that, and a feminist bildungsroman.” —The New York Times Book Review

“If you want to understand, right in your gut, the history of the American relationship with Saudi Arabia; if you want a magical, layered story of west-inside-east, culture layered over culture, and the slow—still ongoing—revolution of gender and race oppression, In the Kingdom of Men is your book. It’s Mad Men meets The Sheltering Sky, a Revolutionary Road for the oil-addicted. It’s also an utter pleasure to read.” —Anthony Doerr, author of Memory Wall

“Unfurled like a rich carpet, rolling out over a vast space before it gently settles and fills every corner. Barnes . . . gets more motion and feeling into a deceptively plain paragraph than many novelists can cram into a chapter. . . . The women who populate [A Country Called Home] are all heroic in their various ways, a wonderful juxtaposition alongside this man’s world built by oil money.” —The Seattle Times

wrigley2016 Poet in Residence: Robert Wrigley

 Robert Wrigley was born in East St. Louis, Illinois. The first in his family to graduate from college, and the first male for generations to escape work in a coal mine, Wrigley earned his MFA from the University of Montana, where he studied with Madeline DeFreesJohn Haines, and Richard Hugo.

Wrigley’s poetry examines the influences of the physical world on our daily lives. He holds that “poetry can have a redemptive function. It can look at the chaos you see and make a kind of sense of the smallest part of it.” His poems are concerned with rural Western landscapes and humankind’s place within the natural world, and he aims to “tell all the truth, but make it sing.”

His collections of poetry include Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems (2006); Lives of the Animals (2003), winner of the Poets Prize; Reign of Snakes (1999), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award; and In the Bank of Beautiful Sins (1995), winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award and finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award from the Academy of American Poets. Wrigley has also won the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, Poetry magazine’s Frederick Bock Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Celia B. Wagner Award, Poetry Northwest’s Theodore Roethke Award, and five Pushcart Prizes.

Wrigley has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts. His poems have been widely anthologized, twice included in Best American Poetry, and featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac.

Wrigley has taught at Lewis-Clark State College, Warren Wilson College, the University of Oregon, the University of Montana, Warren College, and the University of Idaho.

“Wrigley is a truly good poet . . . . His poems always have that most essential quality of seeming as they were written by a human who lives and feels his world and not, like too many poems, by a brain on a pedestal in some bare, unbelievably clean room.”—Christian Wiman, former editor of Poetry

 “Listen to the play of sense in [his] lines. The human presence in them owes much to Wrigley’s own remembered experience, but even more to his consciousness of language and his discernment in marshaling it. His poetry faces up to the primal challenge of the original human setting: a wild world that brings all the poet’s memory, instincts, imagination, and sensuous resources into play in the language he uses.”—Peter Davison, The Boston Globe

wilkins2016 Nonfiction Writer in Residence: Joe Wilkins

 Born and raised in eastern Montana, Joe Wilkins is the author of the memoir The Mountain and the Fathers. He is also the author of the poetry collections Killing the Murnion Dogs (2011), a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award, and Notes from the Journey Westward (2012), winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award. His third full-length collection, When We Were Birds, part of the Millers Williams Poetry Prize Series, edited by Billy Collins, is forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press in the spring of 2016. His essays, poems, and stories have appeared in many magazines and journals, including The Georgia Review, The Southern ReviewThe Missouri ReviewHarvard ReviewOrionThe SunThe Utne Reader, and Slate.

A National Magazine Award finalist, PEN Center USA Award finalist, and Pushcart Prize Winner, Wilkins is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award of Blue Mountain Center, which goes to “a promising new journalist or essayist whose work combines warmth, humor, wisdom and concern with social justice.” Of Wilkins’s work, the Indiana Review writes, “The most striking component of it is its awareness of ‘the whole world.’ What is ordinary becomes transcendent. In places derelict and seemingly unexceptional, Wilkins compels us to recognize what is worth salvage, worth praise.”

In The Mountain and the Fathers, Wilkins explores the life of boys and men in the unforgiving, harsh world north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana in a drought afflicted Big Dry, a land that chews up old and young alike. Wilkins was born into this world, raised by a young mother and elderly grandfather following the untimely death of his father. That early loss stretches out across the Big Dry, and Wilkins uses his own story and those of the young boys and men growing up around him to examine the violence, confusion, and rural poverty found in this distinctly American landscape.

After graduating from Gonzaga University with a degree in computer engineering, he spent two years teaching ninth grade pre-algebra in the Mississippi Delta with Teach For America. He then went on to earn his MFA in creative writing from the University of Idaho. Wilkins now lives with his wife, son, and daughter in western Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.

 Notes from the Journey Westward is visionary. It is admirably consistent and meditative, relentlessly honest in its rejection of any romantic version of the West, and reverent before stars and morning, before the earth and the people who have survived on it. Joe Wilkins honors them by telling their stories.—Tami Haaland, The Billings Gazette

obrienSpecial Guest: Dan O’Brien

Described by the New York Times “as a writer with a keen and poetic eye,”  Dan O’Brien is one of the most powerful literary voices on the Plains, author of numerous novels and memoirs, including Buffalo for the Broken Heart and The Contract Surgeon, winners of the Western Heritage Award for best nonfiction in 2001 and for best fiction in 1999, respectively. Buffalo for the Broken Heart, which explores the history of his ranch and the conversion from beef to buffalo, was chosen as One Book South Dakota in 2009. Dan’s latest non-fiction book, Wild Idea – Buffalo & Family in a Difficult Land is its sequel. O’Brien’s latest novel, Stolen Horses, has won wide praise and was featured in an NPR review by noted book critic Alan Cheuse. His other novels include The Indian Agent, The Spirit of the Hills, In the Center of the Nation, and Brendan Prairie.

O’Brien has been a wildlife biologist and rancher for more than thirty years. He is also one of the most celebrated falconers in America today and was a prime mover in the restoration of peregrine falcons in the Rocky Mountains in the 1970s and 80s. O’Brien’s memoirs on falconry include, The Rites of Autumn and Equinox, which are intimate and revealing explorations of his life-long search for wildness on the Plains. He is a two-time winner of the National Endowment for the Arts individual artist’s grant and a 2001 recipient of the Bush Creative Arts Fellowship.

In addition to writing, O’Brien divides his time among the company he founded, Wild Idea Buffalo, teaching ecology and writing, running the Sustainable Harvest Alliance and serving on the Black Hills branch of The Nature Conservancy. He is the owner of the Cheyenne River Ranch just west of the Badlands National Park and North of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where he lives and shares his life on the ranch with his wife Jill, and their old friend Erney Hersman. You can find out more by visiting his website: http://wildideabuffalo.com/about-us/dan/


L. Cal Hiktzrot: Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer: Poetry

L. Cal Hitzrot is a poet and boarding school teacher from Concord, MA, where he lives with his wife, sons, and an irrepressibly good-natured golden-doodle named Sunnny. A native New Englander, Cal is looking forward to his visit to northwestern Nebraska.


Carey Denman: Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer: Prose

A naturalist at heart, Carey Denman grew up in South Dakota’s Black Hills, where she learned to nock an arrow, hook a fish, and forage for wood sorrel. Living just miles from the secret and wild places of her childhood, she now shares her passion for the outdoors with her own children.

She’s been candidly writing about her parenting adventures since 2012 as a weekly columnist for the Rapid City Journal. When she isn’t celebrating—or lamenting—the rites of parenthood, she’s writing for the Herbal Academy, an online and in-person school for burgeoning herbalists.

Carey holds an M.A. in Rhetoric and has taught writing and literature courses at a number of universities. In her spare time, she leads wild crafting workshops and tends her sprawling garden. She and her husband live on a small acreage near Hill City, South Dakota with their four children.


Story Catcher Festival Featured Writer: Alan Wilkinson

 A resident of Durham, England, Alan Wilkinson has made a living as a writer since the early 1990s. His main literary and historical interests lie in the American West, and he has completed twenty major road trips there in the last thirty years, crossing the region from north to south and east to west a dozen times. He has lived in New Mexico, where he studied writing under Rudy Anaya, and on a cattle-ranch in Nebraska. The Red House On The Niobrara (2014) came out of the experience; his 5000-mile road-trip from Mexico to Canada and back gave him the material for Toad’s Road-Kill Café (2012).

 Alan has a varied writing portfolio, and can testify to the life of a working writer. He started out producing articles, features and reviews for national newspapers, trade magazines and literary quarterlies, then progressed to books. He’s published around twenty, all of them historical or factual. Success in co-authoring and ghost writing assignments has given Alan the freedom to write for his own pleasure during half of each year–to pursue his interests in the American West (and various aspects of the great outdoors) and to maintain his blog (walkinonnails.blogspot.com).

He’s written for TV and radio (factual and drama), and has also been a Writer in Residence in Jack Kerouac’s old house, spent six months as a Wingate Scholar on a Nebraska cattle ranch, and supplemented his income as a reader of non-fiction for Britain’s foremost literary consultancy, TLC. In January 2015 he completed a 3-month residency in Taos, New Mexico, courtesy of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. A frequent visitor to the Sandhills and Pine Ridge region of the Story Catcher workshop, you can check out his latest adventures and publications at alan-wilkinson.com

2016 Workshop Schedule

Thursday, June 9th — WRITER’S RETREAT DAY ONE

Fort Robinson State Park


Buffalo Soldier Barracks Squad Room


9am to 9:30 am Check-In (Continental Breakfast)

10 to 11:15 AM Advanced Fiction Craft Lecture

  • With Fiction Writer in Residence Kim Barnes

Kim Barnes will lead participants through an interactive question and answer craft session.

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN    The Fort Robinson Inn/Restaurant in the Main Lodge is open from 6:30 AM to 9pm daily, and starts serving lunch at 10:30 AM. A list of other dining options in nearby Crawford is included in your packet.


1:00 to 3:00: Writing Time

  • This time has been set aside for participants to work on their individual writing projects or respond to the prompts from the morning session. Weather permitting: field trips will be available to one of our nature retreats for those interested in an inspirational setting.

3:00 to 5:00: The Story Catcher Workshop (Buffalo Soldier Barracks Squad Room)

  • This time has been set aside for participants to share their work and get feedback from other writers and from our writers in residence.


5:00 to 6:00: Move-in to Officer’s Quarters 19B “Bricks”


6:00 to 8:00 PM Dinner and Discussion

  • Special Guest Dan O’Brien
    • Readings from Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land, and his novels set on Fort Robinson (The Contract Surgeon and The Indian Agent)
  • BBQ featuring Wild Idea Bison Products

Friday, June 10th — WRITER’S RETREAT DAY TWO

Fort Robinson State Park


Main Lodge & Henry Dodd Hall (Upstairs)


Breakfast 8-9:30 AM (Pay Your Own Way)

  • We encourage you to gather for breakfast at The Fort Robinson Inn/Restaurant in the Main Lodge before our morning session, which takes place in the same building. Pay your own way—full breakfasts are from $5 to $8

10 to 11:15 AM Advanced Poetry Craft Lecture (Henry Dodd Hall)

  • With Poet in Residence Robert Wrigley
    • Robert Wrigley will lead participants through a craft-lecture discussion.

LUNCH  Meet back at the Officer’s Quarters 19B for lunch. (Complimentary Sandwich Bar)


1:00 to 3:00: Writing Time

  • This time has been set aside for participants to work on their individual writing projects or respond to the prompts from the morning session. Weather permitting; field trips will be available to one of our nature retreats for those interested in an inspirational setting.

3:00 to 5:00: The Story Catcher Workshop (Henry Dodd Hall)

  • This time has been set aside for participants to share their work and get feedback from other writers and from our writers in residence.


  • We encourage participants to gather for Dinner at the Lodge Restaurant, downstairs from Henry Dodd Hall. (Pay your own way—full dinners are from $12 to $20; Sandwiches $5 to $8; soup and salad bar also available).


7:00 to 8:30 PM “Discovering the Creative in Creative Nonfiction” (Officer’s Quarters 19B)

  • A Craft Lecture and Reading Featuring Nonfiction Writer in Residence Joe Wilkins
    • Light refreshments served

NOTE: All participants must be checked out of the Officer’s Quarters by 9am on Saturday–all Saturday sessions are at the Sandoz Center, CSC CAMPUS (We recommend departing around 8am to insure time to travel to Chadron for the opening sessions).

Saturday, June 11th – General Workshop

(Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center Atrium)


9 to 10 AM: Morning Check-In & Registration for General Workshop (Continental Breakfast)

9:30 to 11:00: Now What?: The Art of Publishing

  • with Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley, and Joe Wilkins

This panel discussion will feature each of our distinguished writers in residence as they share successful strategies for publishing.


12:30 to 1:45: The Poetry of Nonfiction

  • With Nonfiction Writer in Residence Joe Wilkins

Joe Wilkins will lead participants through a short craft lecture followed by exercises and prompts that examine the relationship between poetry and nonfiction.

2:00-3:15: The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Lecture and Workshop (Prose)

  • Featuring the Mari Sandoz Emerging Prose Writer Carey Denman
    • Prospecting our lives: using self-adjectives and personal details to enliven creative nonfiction

3:30 to 4:45 The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Lecture and Workshop (Poetry)

  • Featuring the Mari Sandoz Emerging Poet L. Cal Hitzrot
    • Haiku: Then and There, Here and Now. Participants will gain an understanding of (and hopefully an appreciation for) haiku as a poetic form, and will leave with several poetic keepsakes of their time at the “Story Catcher: Writing Wild” Festival.


5:00 to 6:00: Reception

 6:00 to 7:30 PM Keynote Reading (open to the public)

  • Featuring Kim Barnes and Robert Wrigley

book signing to follow


Sunday, June 12th


(Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center Atrium—Open to the Public)

Booksellers, Vendors, Displays all morning

8:30 to 10 AM: Making a Living as a Writer

  • Featuring Alan Wilkinson

From Durham, England, to the Sandhills of Nebraska, Wilkinson will share his adventures as a roustabout writer earning is living across a variety of settings and subjects.

10:15 to 12 PM OPEN MIC 

Readings from Workshop Participants


WRITING RETREAT at Historic Fort Robinson: 

Thursday, June 9th to Friday, June 10th 

With 2016 Writers-In-Residence Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley & Joe Wilkins

Special Guest Dan O’Brien

  • Registration: $350 (Includes two days lodging at our retreat venue* AND admission to the General Workshop and Festival taking place on CSC Campus June 11th through 12th).
  • Students and Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Members Receive a 20% discount.
    • DEADLINE: MAY 30, 2016
    • Space is limited to 15 writers. Early registration is encouraged.

*This is a writing retreat, with an emphasis on building a community of writers in our two days together. Participants will not only share their writing in process, but also the 1890 Brick Officer Quarters. This is a large building, but be aware that sleeping accommodations will be communal, with up to four individual bunks in some of the rooms. (When registering you may indicate if you are attending with another person, and if you are comfortable with gender-neutral room assignments. We have two private rooms with queen-sized beds available for couples).

In the spirit of “writing wild,” many of our events will be taking place outdoors and in historic buildings. Participants should be prepared to navigate stairs and for moderate physical activity in variable weather.

General Workshop & Festival at Mari Sandoz Center (CSC Campus): 

Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12

With 2016 Writers-In-Residence Kim Barnes, Robert Wrigley & Joe Wilkins

Special Guest Alan Wilkinson

  • Registration: $150 (Includes access to all workshops/sessions, the Keynote Reception, Continental Breakfast/Refreshments and Festival events).
  • Students and Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Members Receive a 20% discount.
  • ONLINE REGISTRATION OPENS February 5 (you can also register at the door) 
    • There is no deadline for General Registration, and you do not need to sign up for any specific sessions in advance. However, EARLY REGISTRION is encouraged as materials and notices will be sent out to registered attendees in advance of the workshops.


Due to limited space in the RETREAT, refunds can only be offered up to TEN days after Registration. For planning purposes, there will be no refunds made after May 30th for either the Retreat or General Workshops.

Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Instructorship

Graduate students and others who have writing classroom experience (either as a teacher, student or both), and whose work shows promise, may apply for the Emerging Writer Instructorship. The successful applicant will be honored as a “Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer,” will have fees waived for the Retreat and Workshop, and will lead a workshop session of their design for the rest of the Story Catcher participants. A small stipend will be provided for their instruction and to help defray a portion of their travel expenses. See application for details.


Chadron State College is located about 290 miles north of Denver, CO and 100 miles south of Rapid City, SD Highways 20 and 385 intersect in Chadron. For driving directions and regional and campus maps, please visit CSC Page for Visitors: (http://www.csc.edu/visitors/location.csc)


The lots around the Sandoz Center and Old Administration are OPEN PARKING during the summer.

Climate & Clothing

Chadron is approximately 3369 feet above sea level with a fairly arid climate and a lot of sun during the summer months. Temperatures during our workshop will typically be in the 70s to low 80s (occasionally warmer) with lows around 50. There is always a chance for a cool or damp day, so bring appropriate attire. (Our air-conditioned facilities can be pretty frosty in the summer as well). If you participate in any of the outdoor excursions during your stay, be sure to bring plenty of sun screen and bug-repellant (ticks can be thick in portions of our recreation areas). Be prepared for rapid changes in the weather as afternoon and evening thunderstorms can come up quickly. There is a public pool near campus that will be open during your visit, as well as pools at both Chadron State Park and Fort Robinson State Park.

Field Trips and Other Events

There is much to do in our region, and a lot of history. In addition to the post-workshop excursions and field trips outlined in our schedule above, we have included materials in your registration packet about other recreation, sight-seeing and historical attractions that might be of interest in our region. You might also want to visit the Chadron City Webpage for some excellent suggestions about what to do in the area: http://www.chadron-nebraska.com. The CSC Visitors Webpage also has a good listing of resources:



At times throughout the workshop, dining will be on your own. There are several establishments in the region that you may want to check out:

  • Arby’s  440 W 3rd 308-432-3100
  • Bean Broker Coffee House 202 W 2nd   308-432-3440
  • Cakes And Etc. (Bakery & Sandwiches) 237 Morehead 308-432-8463
  • China House Restaurant 1240 Hwy 20 308-432-4080
  • Country Kitchen 1250 W. 10th 308-432-5111
  • Daily Grind Coffee House 219 Main 308-432-6971
  • Daylight Donut (Lunch items as well) 231 E. 3rd 308-432-4678
  • Donald’s Drive Inn  (Diner & Hot Stuff Pizza Delivery) 448 E 3rd 308-432-5473
  • Escaramuza (Mexican) 410 W. 3rd   308-432-308
  • Helen’s Pancake & Steak House & The Grove Bar & Grill 950 W Highway 20 308-432-9958
  • McDonald’s 1180 W Highway 20 308-432-3998
  • Pizza Hut 500 W 3rd St. 308-432-4408
  • Safeway (Deli Counter)230 Morehead 308-432-4428
  • Subway 1250 W. Highway 20 308-432-2050
  • Taco Johns 1310 U.S. 20 308-432-4509
  • Wilds (Bar and Grill) 216 West 2nd 308-430-2407
  • The Ridge (Bar and Grill) 164 Main   308-432-6773

NOTE: Campus Dining is on summer schedule and servicing athletic camps. You can find out if they will be open to the public for breakfast, lunch or dinner by visiting their webpage: http://www.csc.edu/diningservices or by phone 308-432-6734


Affordable lodging and dining options are available–including on campus, when available.

Best Western West Hills Inn

1100 West 10th Street

(308) 432-3305


Americas Best Value Inns 

840 West Highway 20



Motel 6

755 Microtel Drive

US 385 and US 20

(308) 432-3000


Westerner Inns

The Westerner: 300 Oak Street

(800) 947-0847

The Grand Westerner: 1050 U.S. 20

(877) 994-7263


Bunkhouse Motel

901 East 3rd Street

(308) 432-5591


Economy 9 Motel

1201 West Hwy 20

(308) 432-3119


Historic Olde Main Street Inn B&B

115 Main Street

(308) 432-3380


Trunk Butte Ranch House B&B

(Formerly The White House)

5144 W. Hwy 20
308 432-5162



Victorian Inn B&B

307 Shelton St.



Chadron State Park 

(reserve early) 
Reservations: 402-471-1414


Fort Robinson State Park

Lodge, cabins, camping (reserve early)

Reservations: 402-471-1414


For more information about the workshop, a complete schedule and for registration information, please visit us at www.storycatcherworkshop.org or www.facebook.com/storycatcherworkshop

or email mevertson@csc.edu or 308-432-6462