• On this page find:

    • Speakers

    • Our plans

    • Conference Schedule

    • Info on submitting first impressions


    Here are our Presenters


    Master of Ceremonies


    Kathy Dunnehoff


    Keynote Speaker


    Susan Purvis is an acclaimed author and renowned educator with over 25 years of public speaking experience. Susan began her writing career in 2007 at the Flathead River Writers Conference. With help from that strong community, in 2018, Susan launched her best-selling, award-winning memoir, Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost — And Myself.


    Her love for exploration, training K9’s to save lives, and teaching others to do the same put her in print and on-screen with Smithsonian, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, as well as on CNN, the BBC, and Discovery channels. She’s worked at the hottest, coldest, and highest places on the planet, lived with indigenous cultures in the Amazon, Nepal, Africa, and Mexico. She’s traveled by foot, bike, skis, camel, Cessna, and dugout canoe to capture stories of the human spirit. Website

    Editor and Featured Presenter

    Val M. Mathews is a big-hearted, fun-loving acquisitions editor at The Wild Rose Press, a small traditional publishing house in New York, and an editorial consultant for CRAFT Literary, a well-established online literary magazine. She also teaches courses in editing for the University of California Berkeley Extension, Queen’s University in Ontario, and the Editorial Freelancers Association in New York City. Val earned an MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University and a BFA from the University of Georgia. Fun fact about Val: She’s been an FAA-certified flight instructor for over twenty-five years, and in the past, she flew Lear jets for a living.



    Lynnette Novak is an agent with The Seymour Agency. She has vast experience in
    promoting and polishing new and experienced writers and has an expansive background in
    editing. She holds a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba and now
    lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. She loves dark and
    suspenseful novels with mysterious twists, unique worlds, light and funny, a good love
    story, and lots of voice. Lynnette is always looking for diverse and LGBTQ+ authors. Website

    Film and TV Producer

    As founder of Snowfall Films, Inc. Suzanne Lyons has produced twelve features. She has
    worked with talent that includes Christopher Walken, Naomi Watts, Alfred Molina, James
    Caan and Susan Sarandon. Her films have won a BAFTA, a premier at the Directors
    Fortnight at Cannes and acceptance into the Toronto, Berlin, LA, and Montreal Film
    Festivals. Suzanne founded Flash Forward Institute, with a focus on marketing oneself in
    the industry. She’s been a guest speaker at over seventy industry events and is a member of
    the PGA. Suzanne has written a book on “Indie Film Producing,” and has a Film Producing
    Masterclass with a number of webinars on IFHacademy.com. Website



    Lowell Jaeger (Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019) is the founding editor of Many Voices Press
    and edited New Poets of the American West, an anthology of poets from eleven western
    states. Jaeger is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, winner of the Grolier Poetry
    Peace Prize, and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the
    Montana Arts Council. Lowell was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for
    his work in promoting civil civic discourse. He is the author of seven collections of poems,
    the most recent of which is Or Maybe I Drift Off Alone (Shabda Press 2016). Website


    Connie Cermak, Owner and Creative Director at Social Nectar, LLC, knows how to tell a
    story. After all, she’s been writing other people’s stories for 20 years as a marketing
    consultant, content strategist, social media expert, web designer, writer, and artist. Her
    clients range from best-selling authors to start ups, mid-level markets and enterprise
    companies. Though she considers herself somewhat of a not-so-social social media
    strategist, she’ll help you discover your own story, target your market, and incorporate the
    best social media platforms to garner the attention of your audience and win their loyalty
    through a big picture, online marketing strategy. Website


    Jess E. Owen is a professional author and artist residing in the mountains of northwest
    Montana with her husband and doggo. She is a current board member and past president of
    Authors of the Flathead, and a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and
    Illustrators. She published the indie YA fantasy series, The Summer King Chronicles, as well
    as a contemporary coming-of-age with Page Street Books titled A Furry Faux Paw. A second
    title is due out in the spring of 2023. Jess's stories, whether fantastic or contemporary, are
    Noblebright at their core woven with a spirit of determined hope, belief in the power of
    kindness, and the faith that good will overcome. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Website 1, Website 2


    Actor and audiobook narrator Eve Passeltiner combines East-coast savvy, a Western soul,
    and a wry sense of humor. She has created countless characters on stage and in
    audiobooks, narrating for USA Today and NY Times best-selling authors. Her work has
    been nominated for numerous awards including the annual Independent Audiobook
    Awards, the Audie Awards and Society of Voice Arts awards as well as the Webby Awards
    for her voice work for The Washington Post. Eve is a member of both acting unions: Actors
    Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, and is a member of the Audiobook Publisher’s
    Association. Originally from Manhattan’s West Side she now resides in Whitefish, Montana.


    Maintaining a Healthy Body and Spirit

    Dr. Erika Putnam is an author, chiropractor, and yoga instructor advocating for healing in
    a pro-active environment that includes physical, emotional, and energetic well-being. She is
    co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Self-Healing Techniques, available through her website.
    Outside of work, Erika enjoys road biking, hiking, hunting, outdoor sporting, snowshoeing,
    cooking, yoga, writing, babies, and her dogs - Zen and Carhartt. Website

  • Plans for our 32nd Annual Writers Conference

    Friday, Sept 30 through Sunday, October 2 2022It will be held at Flathead Community College in Kalispell, Montana


    • There will be a Special Workshop on Friday the 30th of Sept and the full conference the weekend of Oct 1 and 2.

    • We plan to be in-person in Kalispell with some limited enrollment via Zoom for those unable to make the trip.

    • Start planning now to get the most out of our conference. Here are some ideas.

    • Registration will begin on April 15.

  • Here's our schedule:



    The Writer's Path: Turning Possibility Into Reality


    Friday, September 30, 2022



    Presented by Val M. Mathews, Editor at The Wild Rose Press, editorial consultant for CRAFT Literary

    10:00 AM – 4:15 PM In-Person only ~ Limited to 25 Participants


    Saturday, October 1, 2022


    Registration, Refreshments, Socializing

    7:15 – 8:00 AM


    Submit your First Impressions at this time: the First Page Only of your manuscript, double spaced, one-inch margins.


    Welcome: Craig Thomas Naylor and Kathy Dunnehoff

    8:00 – 8:25 AM


    Keynote - What's Possible? Getting it on the Page and Into the World

    8:30 – 9:20 AM Susan Purvis


    How To Pitch and Market Your Script or Book

    9:30 – 10:20 AM Suzanne Lyons


    The Craft of YA Writing Jess E. Owen

    10:30 – 11:20 AM


    11:20 AM – 12:20 PM Lunch Provided


    Easy Neck & Shoulder Relief for Writers

    12:30 – 12:50 PM Erika Putnam


    The Poet’s Craft

    1:00 – 1:50 PM Lowell Jaeger


    Capturing the Teen Voice Jess E. Owen


    Marketing with Instagram, Part I Connie Cermak

    2:00 – 2:50 PM


    Traditional Publishing Demystified

    3:00 – 3:50 PM Lynnette Novak


    Our Story in the Publishing World - Local Author Panel Discussion

    Susan Purvis, Leslie Budewitz, Mark Leichliter, Jess Owen, Debbie Burke

    4:00 – 5:00 PM Kathy Dunnehoff, Moderator


    Social Event at The Book Shelf, 101 S. Main, Kalispell

    5:30 – 8:00 PM Snacks and refreshments

    Note: Authors may deliver books ahead of time for sale. Contact Kyle at 406 756 2665


    Sunday, October 2, 2022


    Registration, Refreshments, Socializing

    7:45 – 8:30 AM


    Active Setting: Make Your Characters Leap Off the Page

    8:30 – 9:20 AM Val Mathews


    Catching the Reader's Mind

    9:30 – 10:20 AM Lowell Jaeger


    Writing with an Ear Towards Audiobooks - Eve Passeltiner


    Marketing with Instagram, Part 2 - Connie Cermak

    10:30 – 11:20 AM


    11:20 AM – 12:20 PM Lunch Provided


    Back Pain Relief for Writers

    12:30 – 12:50 PM Erika Putnam


    Editorial First Aid: CPR for Your Dying Manuscript

    1:00 – 1:50 PM Lynnette Novak


    The Novel to Film Process

    2:00 – 2:50 PM Suzanne Lyons


    Navigating Traditional Publishing

    3:00 – 3:50 PM Val Mathews & Lynnette Novak


    First Impressions

    4:00 – 5:00 PM Val Mathews, Lynnette Novak, Susan Purvis, Debbie Burke

    The first sentence and the first page are vital to establish a hook to make the reader continue reading. Submit your first page, double-spaced, to a panel of experts. This is your chance to get immediate anonymous feedback that is shared with all the participants.


    Format the page double-spaced with 1-inch margins and email to: craigtnaylor@gmail.com before September 15.


    Do not submit to First Impressions if you have an appointment with an agent or editor. Please leave this opportunity open to those unable to have their MS critiqued.

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