From our President


October 31, 2021 


Dear Authors of the Flathead:   

Annual election of officers is Thursday November 4th before Kathy Dunnehoff’s presentation. Based on potential COVID-19 risks, some may not be present. This is an in-person meeting only. You may vote at the meeting or email votes to me by November 6th: The newly elected club officers for 2022 will be posted on the website.   

Members only are eligible to vote and run for office. You can nominate yourself or another member who has agreed to run. Write-in nominations can be added to the ballot November 4th. We have open offices for President, Vice President and Board Member #1 due to resignations. Incumbent officers willing to continue in their positions for another year:  Secretary Fran Tabor,Treasurer Tom Kuffel & Board Member Dixon Rice.   

Slate of Candidates for 2022:

PRESIDENT Craig Naylor – Conference coordinator, author, musician

VICE PRESIDENT Sue Purvis – Memoir author, presenter, book coach

SECRETARY Fran Tabor – Secretary extraordinaire, author, Open Readings Hostess

TREASURER Tom Kuffel – AOF official bean counter, manuscript wrangler & author


Jess Owen – acclaimed YA author, speaker, entrepreneur, past President

Erika Putman – author, memoirist, entrepreneur

Dixon Rice – Thriller author, Twitter master

The past two years Authors of the Flathead has had challenges and successes. Many members have published new books in numerous formats including audiobooks. Members with broad skills supported our motto of writers helping writers with presentations and skill-sharing. Membership has soared to more than a hundred active members and our 30th Annual Flathead River Writers Virtual Conference was a success!    

Craig Naylor’s conference coordinator skills and the active support of many other members including Kathy Dunnehoff and Sue Purvis brought the three-day event to a close with many happy participants. One major difficulty occurred when Larry Brooks was unable to provide his second presentation to the conference attendees on Sunday due to health issues. The Board voted to share in the partial recording of his Friday workshop to satiate the disappointment of missing out on his Sunday talk. An email with standard Zoom verbiage was sent only to paid attendees and was not to be shared with the public. Because only part of his workshop was recorded and significant value was lost without interacting with him, the Board felt it was fair to allow regular 2-day attendees to view the recording if desired to make up for missing his second talk.   

Save the Dates: Plans for the 2022 conference are solidifying with some speakers already confirmed. The scheduled dates are September 30-Friday (workshop); October1 & 2 - Saturday and Sunday (presentations). 


Volunteers Needed: If you are interested in becoming active with the group, we have a number of very important volunteer positions you could consider signing up for. Please be sure you have submitted your email at the AOF website so all members will receive important communications.   

Picnic coordinator: Decide on a summertime date, contact Whitefish Parks and Rec. to reserve and pay for the gazebo, include the liquor license (submit receipt to treasurer) or choose a different venue, decide on menu (often potluck with club supplying hamburger & brats, buns, spreads, paper plates, utensils, etc.)   

Holiday social: Organize, decide on a venue (often someone’s home).In past it was typically a potluck and funny gift exchange.   

High School Student Writing Contest: Start organizing in the fall. Coordinate with Tamara Sundberg at the Columbia Falls High School who has provided school interface for years. If interested, ask me for details, emails and process including assembling judges, grading submissions, printing awards, writing letters of notification with award checks enclosed before graduation in the spring.   

Media Coordinator– OPEN – Post to AOF Facebook, Instagram and occasional press releases. This is a very important position that requires a few monthly postings to social media about events that occur and notices of scheduled meetings, topics and presenters. Dixon Rice handles the Twitter platform. Diane Bokor has been doing a great job. We thank her immensely and wish her well in her new volunteer job that conflicts with AOF responsibilities. She is willing to orient you to the position. Information for postings is provided by Kathy Dunnehoff, the VP and others responsible for events.   

First Thursday - Kathy Dunnehoff’s Creative Writing Presentation is always good, providing pearls to improve your writing, characters, plot and ideas to pulse productivity and skills along the road to publication. She would love to have your input with topics of interest you would like to have presented. Email her at the AOF website to submit an idea for a class.   

The Second Thursday Presentations are monthly meetings on varied topics related to writing or publishing. This is the primary responsibility of the Vice President in association with other AOF members with speaker suggestions. Please give some thought for speakers you’d like to hear. Topic ideas or specific speaker suggestions are welcome. Email ideas on the website.   

Open Readings on the Third Thursday – Another important aspect of writers helping writers is the sharing and support that occurs each month at Open Readings. Fran Tabor, Secretary, is hosting this each week. She needs to have backup to cover her position at times. Michele Page has also been active and helpful in Open Readings management. It would be nice to have more people volunteer to attend and help with the reading/critique night each month. If you are not in a critique group, you may find a writing partner at this monthly meeting.   

Screenwriters on the Fourth Thursday – This component of support for writers was an immaculate conception by Barb Schiffman who gestated and delivered this great package to the author group. Even if you are not a current screenwriter enthusiast, you’ll soon be one if you attend. The group is growing, and she does a wonderful job with educating and coordinating. Please give it a try and offer to help her along the way.    

Webmaster – Dennis Foley is responsible for the website, updates and postings. All new books in publication should be submitted to him at the website with a link and .jpg of the cover. If you are a new member and published author who would like to join the website list, please email your information to Dennis. He continues in this role but after thirty years of holding the Authors of the Flathead on his shoulders and health issues, he is getting tired so has cut back other responsibilities and resigned from the Board. Years of presenting essential information to the group each month has produced a voluminous resource for writers. Dennis has supported the group with his vast background of knowledge in writing, screenwriting, television series, movies and crazy stories for decades. We can never thank him enough for all hissupport to get so many of us from zero to publishing many books.   

Flathead River Writers Conference – Coordinator Craig Naylor -2022 is in the making. Craig will need volunteers for the coming conference Sept.30, Oct.1 and 2. There are many responsibilities that are periodic and not time consuming but very important. Examples: Being sure speakers arrive on time for their presentations. Escorting presenters to destinations and often to the socials. Help with planning social events and advertising are key needs in the months leading up to the event. 

New Leadership in2022 - You will have a new Board and President of our non-profit organization in 2022. Please participate and make it a great year. I have been a member of the group for more than two decades serving as Board Member in various capacities and committees including VP, President, Chairman of the Student Writing Contest, social chairman, and Conference Coordinator. I will remain active on the Board for one more year as Past President and assist with transitions of newly elected members to their positions.   

I have always enjoyed reading and writing but an early focus in nursing, adventures in Alaska, then medical school, residency and flight training occurred before I completed the first draft of my first book. The rambling medical thriller eventually split in two and began a series. Authors of the Flathead set me straight. I began outlining and published seven books in seven years beginning 2012. I am working on final edits of two novels.For me, there is no writers’ block. If I reach a story stumble, I put it down and work on another project before returning to the previous evolving storyline.   

Dennis Foley’s classes on writing skills, a strong critique group, finding Scene & Structure by Bickham, broad reading, and writing nearly every day provided my writing foundation. I’m more productive in the early morning hours when the world is silent. Seeing the beautiful MT sunrise with my dog beside me stimulates my writing. May you also find your writing comfort zone be energized by Authors of the Flathead to lead you on an odyssey to reach your goals.   

Best wishes in 2022. 

Betty Kuffel   

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