Beginners to Bestsellers: Flathead Writers Conference

Flathead Writers Conference


A dozen years ago, Susan Purvis knew she wanted to write a book about her experiences training an avalanche search dog. She and her black lab Tasha had earned Congressional recognition for their many dangerous missions finding lost people.

Even though they had jumped out of a helicopter onto the sheer slope of a 13,000-foot mountain, Purvis had no idea how to shape her exciting adventures into a book.

Then she attended the Flathead River Writers Conference and began to study the craft of storytelling. Last year, her memoir Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost—and Myself was published, became a bestseller, and won the Nautilus Award.


The 2019 Focus

This fall, she changes roles from student to teacher, sharing her journey from beginning writer to bestseller when she returns as a featured speaker at the 29th annual .

This year’s program pays special attention to the popular memoir genre, in addition to fiction and nonfiction.

Conference chair Betty Kuffel says, “Our mission is writers helping writers. I’m proud of our lineup of speakers, who are accomplished authors as well as highly respected teachers of their craft. In addition, New York agent Bob Mecoy and Simon & Schuster editor Ben Loehnen will share insights about traditional publishing. They’ll discuss current trends as well as how to capture an agent’s attention with a compelling pitch.”


Included Presenters

Haven Kimmel is the author of the #1 bestselling memoir A Girl Named Zippy, in addition to novels, children’s books, and poetry. Kimmel teaches writing at Duke University.

West Point graduate Bob Mayer served in the Special Forces and commanded a Green Beret A-Team. He has written more than 75 books, including the bestselling Area 51 series, and is a sought-after instructor at writing workshops all over the country.

A New Yorker transplanted to Whitefish, Jeff Giles, has broad experience as a former editor for Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly, a freelancer for Rolling Stone and the NY Times Book Review. He also authored a memoir. His young adult fantasy novel, The Edge of Everything, is set in Montana.

Independent publishing or self publishing now accounts for a significant portion of books on the market. Two successful indie authors, Kathy Dunnehoff and Jess E. Owen, will discuss alternate routes to publishing books.

Dunnehoff’s four romantic comedy novels became Amazon bestsellers. She leads an annual workshop for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Owen is the author of an award-winning young adult fantasy series, Summer King Chronicles. She will discuss crowd-funding and tools to run a successful self-publishing business.

Is the weekend all work and no play? Hardly. A Saturday evening social gives attendees and speakers the chance to relax over snacks and beverages. To maintain the intimate, friendly reputation the conference is known for, attendance is capped at 100.

“I took the first step to fulfill my dream of writing my memoir at the Flathead River Writers Conference,” Purvis says. “This is the place to learn and meet people who will help you achieve your goal—the best $160 a writer can spend.”



Two-day tuition is $160, or $90 for single-day attendance, and includes lunch. The venue is the Arts & Technology Building at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. MSN

Click here for more details and to register for the conference, or write to: Authors of the Flathead, P.O. Box 7711, Kalispell, MT 59904-0711.


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