UM Creative Writing to Host ‘Writing @ Work’ Conference

March 07, 2018

MISSOULA – The University of Montana Creative Writing program will bring together writers from all walks of life during the “Writing @ Work” conference from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, March 16, in the University Center Theater. 

“Writing @ Work” is an afternoon of community and collaboration for working writers, world-class editors, publishers, agents, students and anyone interested in the power of writing and how to build a life around it.

 “This year, the ‘Writing @ Work’ conference has a magnitude of excellence unparalleled for programs of our size,” said Debra Magpie Earling, director of Creative Writing at UM.

During the conference, UM will host Gary Fisketjon, renowned editor and the vice president of Knopf publishing. He has edited Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff, Richard Ford, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt, Cormac McCarthy and UM’s Bill Kittredge, among others.

Sarah Bowlin, an agent at Aevitas Creative Management, will join him to discuss the publishing world. Before becoming an agent, Bowlin spent a decade as an editor of literary fiction and nonfiction at Riverhead Books and most recently at Henry Holt & Company, editing numerous acclaimed writers.

Other writers, editors and publishers, along with entrepreneurs, will discuss professional aspects of the writing life and share advice on how to make writing a career. Panels and discussions will include topics ranging from writing in the West and the basics of getting published to women’s perspectives on life and craft.

The conference is free and open to the public. The schedule follows:

  • Noon to 12:10 p.m. – Opening remarks: Earling
  • 12:10 to 1 p.m. – “Publishing & the New West,” Bowlin; Brian Schott, editor and publisher of the Whitefish Review
  • 1:10 to 2 p.m. – “Two Writers, Two Perspectives,” Sarah Aswell, comedian and writer; Pete Fromm, writer
  • 2:10 p.m. to 3 p.m. – “Making Writing Your Business,” Chris Dombrowski, writer and director of Beargrass Writing Retreat; Paul Gladen, director of Blackstone LaunchPad; Timothy O’Leary, entrepreneur and writer; Jennifer Sheets, writer, MFA student and creator of Storysquares App
  • 3:10 to 4 p.m. – “Legendary Editor: A Conversation with Gary Fisketjon,” Fisketjon
  • 4:10 to 5 p.m. – “Women, Writing, Work, Wisdom,” Aswell; Heather Cahoon, policy scholar and writer; Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, professor at Seattle University, writer and commissioner for Washington State Arts Commission; Jenny Montgomery, writer and owner of Montgomery Distillery; Sheets; Susanna Sonnenberg, writing teacher and writer

“One of my favorite parts of the conference will be the ‘Women, Writing, Work, Wisdom’ panel,” Earling said. “Judy Blunt is going to be the – don’t want to say moderator – I want to say instigator or provocateur. There may be a trigger warning, but it’s going to be fun.”

To view a full schedule with biographies, visit For more information call UM Creative Writing Program Coordinator Karin Schalm at 406-243-5267 or email


Note to Media: Images of all presenters are online at

Contact: Karin Schalm, program coordinator, UM Creative Writing, 406-243-5267,