Tuesday, July 5, 2016


guest post by Vickie Goodwin

photo by Vickie Goodwin
Imagine five days with no TV, radio, very limited cell and Internet service. Let someone else do the cooking and clean up the dishes.

Feel the wind-constant, pasting your shirt to your body, tangling your hair, pulling at your hat. Feel surprise when you realize it stopped sometime while you were taking pictures, watching the sun set over the Red Wall or listening to oral historian Clay Gibbons paint mind pictures of the Hole-in-the-Wall gang and the Johnson County War.

Ride five hours on horse back, walk as the sun and wind vie for the privilege of turning unprotected body parts fiery red, feel the ache in your shoulders from the large quantity of water you must pack to stay hydrated. Or you could just share a four wheel drive vehicle with a guide who knows the stories of the 57,000 acre Willow Creek Ranch and the inhabitants who set up teepee rings, hunted the antelope, deer and rabbits, ate the plants or used them to heal the body. What made this inhospitable location feel so much like home that they returned year and after year? Perhaps it is the same sense of place that makes me believe I could easily spend a week or two in the isolated cabin, alone with my paper and pen.
photo by Vickie Goodwin
Visualize the rustlers and train robbers who slipped down through the elusive hole in the red wall to safety as posses halted in frustration, fearing the very real possibility of ambush.

Write as the ghosts of the past whisper stories in your ear at the site of the original Hole-In-The-Wall ranch.

Smell the sage and taste the red dirt.

Craig Johnson reads from The Highwayman
photo by Vickie Goodwin
Walt Longmire, Sheriff of Absaroka County, disguised as his creator Craig Johnson, drives his pick up in and tickles your imagination with only the beginning of his latest adventure in the Wind River Canyon between Shoshoni and Thermopolis.

In addition, spend four hours a day honing your craft with Tina Wells, author of Crybaby Ranch and Writing Wild and Janet Hubbard, author of twenty-four nonfiction books and three mystery novels set in France: Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Share your work. Get honest critiques.

Then sit on the porch of one of the cabins, enjoying wine or beer with your fellow writers, all strangers before this week, talking and sharing as you gather fodder for stories yet to be told.

Find yourself picking up pen and paper and writing, a quick paragraph here, a story prompt there, a complete short story or the beginning of your next novel, memoir or short story. A story wakes you up in the middle of the night insisting it needs to be told and you write it before breakfast.

Of course this is all imagination. Nothing could be that perfect.

Or could it?

photo by Vickie Goodwin
Lynn chimes in…

Vickie was surfing through Facebook in early March of this year when she happened upon a post that Susan Vittitow Mark had shared...all about the Willow Creek Ranch Writing Workshop: June 12 – 18, 2016 at the infamous Hole in the Wall, near Kaycee, Wyoming.

Turns out the Hole in the Wall holds a special place in Vickie’s heart so she knew she had to go. As is obvious from her post, the workshop was a pretty charmed experience for her. She plans on doing it again next year.

I was talking with Vickie at the Wyoming Writers, Inc. conference (we were in the nonfiction critique session together) and she told me a little bit about this workshop. I tinged green, but kept smiling and tried not to show it.

Then I said, “Boy, I’m sure our blog readers would like to hear about that.”

And now you have.

For more information on upcoming Willow Creek Ranch Writing Workshops, visit Janet Hubbard at www.janethubbard.com or Tina Welling at www.tinawelling.com/.

Vickie Goodwin writes both fiction and nonfiction. She earned 1st place for her nonfiction stories "Dateline Wyoming" (2012) and "Visiting the Prison" (2013) in the Wyoming Writers, Inc. contest. "Goodbye" earned 1st place in the 2014 Short and Sweet category. 

She lives in Douglas, Wyoming with her favorite husband and their cat Smokey. She has two pretty good kids and two fantastic granddaughters.


  1. Vickie, this is so perfectly told the tears leaked out of my eyes in pure joy and remembrance. Yes, yes it can be that perfect and was. Thankyou.

  2. Well, I don't know if the workshop is that really really good or if Vicki is a really really good writer. Probably both, given how well she's done in the WWI contests. If I go, can I wear my Absaroka County Sheriff's baseball cap? This sounds like a wonderful experience. Hope I can somehow make it sometime.

  3. Art, it really, really was that good. Quarantined Vickie is a really really good writer !

  4. Beautiful description of our workshop at Willow Creek Ranch. It was all that Vickie said. And we're going to do it once more this summer. Would love to have you join us. Limited to 10 writers. Contact me with any questions. Tina@TinaWelling.com


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