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Welcome

Thanks for finding me.

Feel free to click around the site to learn about me and my writing life. You'll find ways to write with me in workshops and retreats and you can sign up for a writing or book study partner. You'll be able to pre-purchase my forthcoming memoir, Getting to Love, and you'll find access to the online journal, Starry Starry Kite.

I'm so glad you're here.

 

Short Bio

Born in Texas, raised in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Indiana, Linda Castronovo now lives and writes in western Massachusetts, ancestral land of the Nipmuc and Pocumtuck People. She makes her home with her husband, a yellow lab, a black cat, and a dozen chickens on a tiny hobby farm with fruit trees, berry bushes, and too many weeds. Nature is still a daily wonder.  

Long Bio

Story captured my imagination at age seven when my second grade teacher spent the year reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Series. I followed along as Laura and her family braved the wilds of the upper plains in the years before statehood.

In fifth grade I was fidgety and distracted in my small reading group. I could say the words, but the story made no sense among the competing voices in the classroom. My teacher sent me to the library to read on my own. In the quiet, I pictured the movie of the story. I put myself in the action, into the bodies of characters. I rode wild horses, swam in warm seas, and traveled through the wardrobe into Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, Chincoteague Island, and many more. I experienced sadness and joy, anger and fear. I could be anyone and anything: Harriet the Spy, Aslan the Lion, The Black Stallion.

     

I started writing a few years later when I received my first blank book. I grew up thinking of myself as a writer. I wanted to create the magic I had experienced as a reader. But I also wanted to be a veterinarian (like James Herriot) and, in college, found myself more drawn to life sciences and to sports than to English classes. After college and graduate school, I coached field hockey and lacrosse for fifteen years, taught high school science, and then stayed home fulltime to raise my son for his first seven years. When I went back to work, I shifted to elementary school so my son and I could have the same schedule.

 

It was while teaching writing to children that I discovered writing as more than journaling. There were specific skills, steps, and stages: brainstorming, drafting, reimagining, rearranging, revising, editing, proofreading, and publishing. While practicing these skills in Writing Workshop (Thank you, Lucy Calkins), we learned to think like writers, and we all fell in love with the writing process.

When I retired in 2018, I joined a writing group and developed my skills with daily practice and the generous feedback from fellow writers. I am excited to share a practice that allows me to express my whole self. Writing is an infinite well that nourishes my curiosity and creativity.

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A Short History of My Writing Life

After I retired in 2018, I was invited into my first writing group after a trip to India where my sister announced to a small group, “My sister is a writer.” It’s taken me years to claim this identity for myself, but Beth has been my first editor and greatest fan for as long as I can remember. I am eternally grateful to her and to many others: poets: Epi Bodhi, Jane McPhetres Johnson, and Eileen P. Kennedy; and novelist Kathryn Holzman welcomed me and Nicola Metcalf into the fold of the Friday Writers. They motivated me to improve objectively terrible first drafts and introduced me to Straw Dogs Writers Guild’s monthly newsletter where I discovered a large local writing community.

 

Through Straw Dogs, I joined Stephanie Shafran and Lynn Bechtel’s Monday Afternoon Writing Group including Madlynn Haber, Erin Ervin, Dorothy Reihm, Carla Cooke, and Eileen P. Kennedy. We meet weekly, rotating responsibility for prompts and timekeeping. I found additional opportunities to write with Lynn Bowmaster’s Woven Word workshops, Writers in Progress, and the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop.

I joined Patricia Lee Lewis at Patchwork Farm and on retreat in Culebra, Dori Ostermiller at Writers in Progress, and Nerissa Nields in Writing it Up in the Garden. Their skilled leadership and expert facilitation broadened my skills and lent confidence to my writing voice. I will always remember Patricia’s patient tone while looking over my early work. “I encourage you to be suspicious of every adjective-noun combination, Linda. Make sure the adjective tells us something we don’t already know about the noun.”

A series of workshops with Cathy Luna on memoir structure, theme and craft gave me direction and focus for my first real draft. I had begun a memoir about raising my son, but Cathy’s exercises led me to the story of learning to love and be loved in mid-life.

I was part of Dori Ostermiller’s 2021 Manuscript Intensive Series (with Don Lesser, Rita Bleiman, Marie Levandier, Sara Barry, and Jane Mortifee) and Celia JeffriesPioneer Valley Writers Workshop Memoir Manuscript Program (in 2020 and 2021 with Tracy Grammer, Phyllis Muldoon, Anne Bergeron, Pam Roberts, and Pamela Sharron). These two years were pivotal in shaping an amorphous first draft into a tidier story with a compelling narrative arc. Craft instruction and generous feedback from leaders and participants in these programs continue to inform my writing.

I feel lucky to live in an area with so many opportunities to write in community. I love being a part of a team and I value the inspiration available in partnerships and small groups. My days now are filled with accountability partnerships, critique groups, workshops and webinars with writers from near and far. I thrive in their company. Writing is an infinite well that nourishes my curiosity and creativity. I’m excited to share it.

 

Write with Me

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If you are as easily distracted as I am you may benefit from a scheduled time and place  to work on a writing project.

In this weekly group, limited to six writers, we'll spend two hours in quiet parallel work. No reading aloud, no commenting on others' writing. Just the accountability you need to make progress on your writing.

Tuesdays and Thursdays 

1:30 - 4:00 PM

Writing Retreats

Get away from it all with a small group of supportive writers. Optional daily activities include yoga and meditation, writing prompts, lots of independent writing time, common meals (w/GF, DF, and VEG options), and evening group sharing.

Email me  for information about upcoming retreats to the Berkshires, Cape Cod, and Vermont in Summer and Fall 2022.

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Generative Workshops

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In this weekly workshop based on AWA Guidelines, we will warm-up to a common prompt with a short writing period. We'll read around without comment, and then write for 60-90 minutes from another series of prompts. Afterwards, we'll read our new writing and receive comments about what stood out and what stayed with others.  

Six Mondays

Sept 12 - Oct 17, 2022

10 AM - 12:30 PM

Writing Partnerships

Find a writing partner or small group for encouragement, accountability, or critique. Sign-up to be matched with others who want to share and improve their writing.

You choose how much, how often, and what kind of feedback you want to receive. You can choose to meet remotely or in person. Bust out of the trope of the solitary writing life and feel the benefits of  regular support.

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Distracted Writers Study Hall

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Six-Week Sessions

Tuesdays and Thursdays

Sept 13 - Oct 27, 2022

1:30 - 4:00 PM

$50

Maybe you can you relate? You're in the middle of a writing project. You’re ready to research a new piece of writing. A deadline is looming. You just need to do the work.

 

​You carve out time while the kids are in school or with a babysitter. The dog needs a walk, and so do you. The house needs attention; the car needs inspection. Laundry calls. There are dishes to wash, bathrooms to clean, and closets to organize.

You ignore it all and settle in to work. Your phone pings; an email dings; a text message pops up. Just a quick check, and you are down the rabbit hole. Your precious writing time has evaporated.

 

Join me in my home for a distraction-free space. This is not your typical writing group. We’ll have two full hours to work on our own projects. No craft discussions.

No reading aloud. No comments on one another’s writing.

Coffee and tea will be available, but no snacks. Come well-fed. 

If there is unanimous interest, we’ll read excerpts on the last day.

Generative Writing Workshops​

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Six-Week Sessions

Mondays

Sept 12 - Oct 17, 2022

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Limited to 6 Writers

$60

Do you want a little inspiration to spark your imagination and creativity?

Do you enjoy the company of a small group of supportive writers?

We'll warm-up with a few minutes of writing to a novel prompt.

Then, we'll read around without comment to let ideas percolate and cross-pollinate.

With additional prompt options, we'll write independently for 60-90 minutes before we come back together to read and respond to aspects of the writing that work.

Limited to six writers.

Based on Amherst Writers and Artists' Philosophy, I believe: 

  • Everyone has a strong, unique voice.

  • Everyone is born with creative genius.

  • Writing as art belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.

  • Craft can be improved without damage to a writer's original voice or artistic self-esteem.

  • A writer is someone who writes.

 When responding to the writing of others, we follow AWA Guidelines: 

  • Everyone’s writing, including the leader’s, is treated with equal respect and value.

  • Writing is kept confidential and treated as fiction.

  • Writers can refrain from reading their work aloud.

  • Responses to just-written work reflect what is strong and successful.

  • Responses and exercises support the development of literary craft.

  • We listen for and notice what works.

  • We listen for and notice how the writer drew us into the world of the story. 

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Writing Retreats

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You don't have to go far to get away from it all.

Join me on retreat within an hour's drive from western Massachusetts.

The Berkshires, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and Vermont.

Do you know of a great property with enough room and privacy for five or six writers?

Contact me to start organizing our next retreat.

Typical Daily Schedule (All events are optional.)

6:30-7:00       Sitting in Silence

7:00-7:30       Yoga

7:30-9:00       Walk/Hike and/or Breakfast

9:30 AM         Writing Prompts / Warm-up

10:00-12:30      Independent Writing Time

12:30              Group Lunch and Sharing

2:00-5:00        Independent Writing and/or Outdoor activity

5:30 PM          Supper

6:00-8:00        Read, Respond, Share

8:00 PM          Meditation

 

Writing Partnerships

Some writers write alone. Some write best in a group.

Some need just one other person

to be accountable to their goals,

read new writing, or provide feedback on the latest draft.

Maybe you want to share the joys and struggles of putting words on the page.

Accountability , Critique Partner, Beta Reader

Join our growing list of writers to find a partner for the support 

you need for the next step on your writing journey.

 

Book Study Partnerships

More information soon!!