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The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is an annual creative writing conference at Arizona State University that brings together writers, readers, and lovers of literature for three days of instruction, inspiration, and community. By creating an intimate and accessible space where conference-goers can make real, personal connections with award-winning authors, industry experts, and the larger community of peers, attendees gain practical tools to develop their craft, professional knowledge to further their careers, and determination and purpose to move their writing forward. For more information about the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference, click here.
Desert Nights, Rising Stars is for anyone with an active interest in creative writing or contemporary literature (or looking to develop one). Specifically, the conference is geared towards anyone who is looking to get more involved in creative writing as a hobby, practice, or profession, more acquainted with the ins and outs of the publishing, or simply more involved in their local literary community. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve studied Creative Writing or have an English degree. You don’t have to have a complete manuscript or be publishing work. Desert Nights, Rising Stars provides a broad array of sessions and programs that meets writers wherever they are. Writers of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels are welcome
While it may be little sentimental, we believe that “Desert Nights, Rising Stars” encapsulates the uniqueness of living in the Sonoran Desert, and the mystical, almost magical quality that the land contains: some sublime promise or potential, a certain sense of awe or wonder that we hope our attendees leave the conference with, that they come to see and feel themselves.
The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference began in 2003, and has been running for over 13 years.
The conference covers the majority of existent genres and forms: poetry; short-stories, flash fiction, novels, and literary fiction; young adult (YA), middle grade, science-fiction/fantasy (SF/F), and other forms of genre fiction; blogs, essays, travel-writing, and other forms of creative nonfiction; screenwriting, comics, and other visual media.
For a complete list of sessions, please see this year’s schedule.
The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference features over 50 presentations, panels, readings, open Q&A sessions, and guided interviews, ranging from craft classes and workshops to the business of writing and the writing life.
Specifically, this year’s conference covers: lyrical fiction and prose; memoir; mythology, folklore and fairytales; indigenous literature; dialogue, dramatic monologues, and character development; plot management and structure; setting and world-building; cinematic structure and screenwriting; editing, publishing, query letters and agents; giving and receiving critique; images and imagery; freelance writing, blogs, and narrative essays; self-care and mental health; immigration, borderlands, and multiculturalism; travel writing; critical theory and political poems; the research process; comic strips; gender and race; climate change; and more.
For a complete list of sessions, please see this year’s schedule.
The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is held on the historic Tempe Campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
The conference runs from approximately 8 am to 5 pm every day, Thursday through Satuday. While this is a significant commitment of time, we don’t intend for every attendee to attend every single session. Rather, we schedule the conference in this way so that people can have a full experience even if they have to miss one or two things. Please see this year’s schedule for more details.
For visitor parking, we highly recommend the Fulton Center Parking Structure, off University Blvd just east of College Ave on the North Side of the street.
If these lots are full, you may also try Visitor Lot 19 on E Apache Blvd between S College Ave and S Normal Ave, though this is farther away.
We do not recommend Visitor Lot 45, off Rural Rd between E Spence Ave and E Vista Del Cerro Dr, or Visitor as this is nearly a mile away.
We do not recommend parking off campus for similar reasons. Any other available visitor lots on campus have 1 or 2 hour maximums; they may also require special event passes or permits. Parking on campus is generally available for $3 an hour or $12 all day.
Please be aware: outside of these lots, parking at ASU can be difficult and time-consuming, and we generally recommend taking the light rail. For more information about the light rail or other public transportation options, please see below.
Of course! Valley Metro light rail extends from 19th Avenue and Montebello in Phoenix goes down Central Avenue and along Washington and Jefferson—with connections to the Airport—and into Tempe before ending in Downtown Mesa. Service runs from approximately 4:30 in the morning to 1 am at night each day. Free parking for the light rail is available at transit centers located at 19th Ave and Montebello, Central and Camelback, and Sycamore and Main St. Park-and-rides are available throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area. Fares range between $2 and $4 each day.
Our light rail stop is College Ave and Veterans Way. Once you arrive at this stop, simply walk south down College Avenue until you cross University Blvd and head left / southeast. After a minute or two, you’ll see a large fountain in the middle of a plaza. On your left will be University Club. In front of you will be Old Main. The Piper Writers House is located between these two buildings, just a few hundred feet away.
Each year, between two and three hundred people attend our conference, resulting in a faculty:participant ratio of 1:12. While this may seem small, we actually cap attendance in order to ensure that every conference-goer receives the kind of intimate, personalized instruction they deserve.
Use the hashtags #DesertNightsRisingStars, #DNRS2018, and #PiperWriters. We also encourage you to live tweet sessions, share pictures on Instagram, post in the facebook event, document your day through snapchat, or otherwise share the conference experience as you see fit.
All buildings in which the conference takes place are ADA accessible.
For Old Main, elevators are located on the south side of the building (opposite from the main entrance). In University Club, a ramp is located to the south of the building and an elevator is located on the main floor.
If you have any challenges with accessibility, including parking, that you would like to discuss, please contact the Piper Center at (480) 965-6018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While every attendee will be given a printed program containing information about the conference, staff and volunteers will be present at all conference locations at all times to answer any questions you may have.
Piper staff will be dressed in business-casual attire and wearing permanent name tags as they move around the conference (if they don’t introduce themselves to you first). Volunteers will be wearing eye-catching Volunteer buttons and will be stationed at the Registration Table, Information Table, and every classroom. Beyond this, all Piper staff and volunteers should be readily identifiable by their warm smiles, friendly attitudes, and their sincere willingness to make your conference experience the best possible experience it can be.
Arizona State University offers free WiFi to anyone on campus. Simply look for the network “asu guest”, connect with your device, and follow the prompts on-screen.
Unfortunately, the Conference does not have a public printer. We suggest checking in with Noble Library, Hayden Library, or other campus resources for further help.
As Arizona State University is a tobacco-free campus, smoking on campus is prohibited. If you would like to use a tobacco product during the conference, there is a bench and ashtrays on the Northwest corner of University Dr. and College Ave, less than a five-minute walk away from University Club and Old Main.
There will be a special conference book fair on the third floor of Old Main inside Carson Ballroom selling the latest titles from conference faculty. You can also purchase the literary journal Hayden’s Ferry Review—run by ASU’s MFA program. The bookfair will be open throughout the conference and can be visited anytime during scheduled conference hours.
Simon Ortiz will signing books after his keynote reading on first day of the conference (Thursday, Febrauary 16, 2017). Beyond this, faculty will be happy to sign books for you throughout the conference (though please keep in mind that the window between each session is small and signing time may be limited).
Yes. Each year, the Conference features a catered reception and reading from the keynote speaker in the Carson Ballroom in the historic Old Main building at Arizona State University. We are also planning off-site events for Friday and Saturday evening in order to provide more opportunities for conference attendees to get to know each other and develop relationships beyond the conference itself. For more information, check the schedule.
Standard registration for the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is $400.
In 2015, a survey of writing programs by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs—including conferences, centers, workshops, festivals, retreats and residencies--found that most conferences (25%) cost between $1,000 and $2,000 to attend, with nearly 72% of all programs surveyed costing over $500.
While $400 is a significant amount of money for any individual to spend—regardless of their income level or profession, particularly if those individuals have families, dependents, or other financial responsibilities—registrations only cover 40% of the total conference cost, the rest of which is absorbed by the Center and its partners. As a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the development of creative writers in our local community, we aim to provide the highest quality of education we can offer at the lowest price we can offer.
This being said, we offer numerous discounts and scholarship opportunities for various individuals across multiple fields. For more about scholarships, discounts, or similar opportunities, please visit our pricing page or keep reading.
Arizona teachers, Arizona State University affiliates, and any veterans or military personnel (active or retired) may register at any time for $375.
Early registration is available for $350 until December 31st, 2017.
The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing currently offers scholarship opportunities to undergraduate students in the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, current students in the MFA program, students from the Maricopa Community College System, Veterans, and several other groups.
If you would like to apply for one of these scholarships, please contact the appropriate person within your respective institution for more information, or contact the Piper Center at (480) 965-6018 or email@example.com.
If you would like to sponsor a scholarship, please contact the Piper Center at (480) 965-6018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately we are not accepting applications for volunteers for the conference at this point in time. Please check back next year for volunteer opportunities.
All registrants will receive an e-mail confirmation as soon as their payment is received and processed. If you have questions about your payment, please contact the Piper Center at (480) 965-6018 or email@example.com.
Monday, February 19th, 2018.
Unfortunately we do not accept walk-in registrations.
Of course! To purchase a registration for somebody else, simply register through the normal process. There will be a place to enter the other person’s name.
No. While we offer sponsor rates to institutions, we do not offer reduced rates for groups of individuals. If you are interested in exploring a sponsor rate with your institution or business, please contact Education Programs Coordinator Felicia Zamora at (480) 727-1787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately, we do not offer a daily rate or a prorated registration fee for partial attendance.
Yes: registration payment covers all conference events (including receptions and book signings).
Yes. Lunch is included with all conference registrations, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The Conference also features light appetizers and a buffet at the opening night reception in Carson Ballroom, coffee in the morning, and light refreshments throughout the day.
Beyond this, numerous dining options are also available both on-campus and in the immediately surrounding area (just a short walk away). There are also a few vending machines near Old Main.
While we encourage you to participate in off-site events or connect with other attendees when the conference day is over, alcohol will not be served at the conference.
Yes: however, as there are no refrigerators available for public use, please plan accordingly.
If you are travelling to the conference from out of town, we generally recommend the following hotels:
**Must book by phone and mention that the conference is an ASU event in order to receive the discount.
As the Phoenix Metropolitan area is extremely busy this time of year, we cannot guarantee room availability, and we recommend making arrangements as soon as possible.
Most attendees dress casually and comfortably. Arizona is mild and sunny during February, with daytime temperatures ranging from the low seventies to the mid mid-eighties. We recommend that you check the weather, just in case! We also recommend good walking shoes.