The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Beyond the Ripped Bodice: Romance Writing in the 21st Century with Romance Writers of America Phoenix, HelenKay Dimon, Cathy McDavid, Deloris Nash, Willow Sanders, Kris Tualla

Date(s): Saturday, February 22, 2020, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Front Lawn, Old Main, Arizona State University Tempe, 400 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Panel, Reading, Talk
Genre and Form(s): Romance
Cost: Free

RSVP for this Event

About this Event

While romance of yesteryear may have conjured images of Fabio-like men with muscles and flowing hair, and breathless women suffocating in constricting bodices, the new millennia has heralded in a new age of romance. From sweet to heat and everything in between, romance has something for everyone! Discuss, love, romance, smooching, and more with the Romance Writers of America Phoenix. Featuring national best-selling and local authors Andie J. Christopher, Cathy McDavid, Deloris Nash, Willow Sanders, and Kris Tualla. 

About the Author

Logo for Romance Writers of America Phoenix

Romance Writers of America is a national non-profit genre writers association that provides networking and support to individuals seriously pursuing a career in romance fiction. 

Photograph of HelenKay Dimon

HelenKay Dimon is a divorce lawyer turned full-time author of over forty romance novels and novellas. Her award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues, including The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, and her books have twice been named “Red-Hot Reads” and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. She is an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award winner and RITA® Award winner in romantic suspense. She has taught romance writing and fiction writing at UCSD extension and MiraCosta College.

Photograph of Cathy McDavid

In the third grade, NY Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Cathy McDavid made it her goal to read every Black Stallion book ever written. Who knew such an illustrious ambition would eventually lead to a lifelong love of all things western, owning a stagecoach pulled by six mules, and a career writing contemporary romances for Harlequin? With 48 titles in print and over 1.3 million books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. This “almost” Arizona native and mother of grown twins is married to her own real-life sweetheart. After leaving the corporate world five years ago, she now spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting broncs, and sweeping gals off their feet --- oops, no. Make that winning the hearts of feisty, independent women who give the cowboys a run for their money. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

Photograph of Deloris Nash

Deloris’ sister gave her a historical romance the summer of her freshman year of high school. She was still reading it as she watched the sun came up the next day and she has been an avid romance reader ever since. It took her four years to find the courage to submit her first novella to Siren Bookstrand and after a month she received her first contract. She has written and published two other books since then. She still considers herself a new writer with a lot more to learn.

She is a Navy Veteran and has been married to her significant other for 25 years. They have one daughter and two boys plus three dogs so it’s a full house! They moved to Arizona in 2009 from San Diego. Her motto is, Live Real and Real Love Will Come.

Photograph of Willow Sanders

A marketer by day, and author by night, Willow Sanders writes sweet with heat Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. Her debut novel, Dirty Little Secret won Breakout Author of the Year in 2012 from and was the Book Buzz PR - Romance Novel of the year. She has been a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) since 2004, both in Chicago and in Phoenix, is the Publicity Chair for Valley of the Sun RWA, the President of Desert Rose RWA, and also was named a 40 Under 40 Marketer by Connect Association last year. When not writing you can find her torn between her loyalty to the Fighting Illini and her husband's loyalty to Michigan State, bemoaning traffic, feeding her caffeine addiction at the Green Mermaid (otherwise known as Starbucks) and trying to find the connection between her and the Gilmore Girls--because she is certain she is a long-lost family member.

Photograph of Kris Tualla

Kris Tualla, a dynamic award-winning author of historical romance and suspense, has created a 30-novel dynasty with The Hansen Series. A member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, and Sisters in Crime, she was a guest instructor at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. In 2019 Kris was inducted into the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame for her “Camp Hale Series” and two of those WWII novels have been optioned for a screen project.

About the Literary Fair

Presented as a public extension of the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference in partnership with ASU Open Door, the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Literary Fair is a celebration of creative writing and literary arts in a local community. Enjoy free author talks, poetry readings, and other literary events and activities from authors, publishers, and other organizations from all over the Southwest on Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Arizona State University, Tempe Campus. All events are open to the public and free. You do not need to register for the conference in order to attend. To learn more about the fair, visit our website at

View a Map