Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference

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Conference FAQ

If you can ask it, we can answer it

Have a question about the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference? Answers to more frequently asked questions are provided below.

To find answers to your questions, you can browse questions by category or search the FAQ. If your question isn't in our list, just send us an email at pipercenter.info@asu.edu.

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What is the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference?

The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is an annual creative writing conference at Arizona State University featuring nationally-recognized writers presenting a variety of classes, workshops, panels, and talks on literary craft, technique, and other topics related to creative writing and contemporary literature. To learn more about the conference, visit the about page. 


Who is the conference for?

Whether hobby, practice, passion, or profession, our conference is for writers of all backgrounds, genres, and levels of experience. You don't need to have an MFA in Creative Writing, have studied English, or come from an academic background. You don't need to have a completed manuscript or be publishing work. Our attendees learn as much from each other as they do from our faculty. By offering a variety of sessions across multiple topics and fields, each attendee can engage in a uniquely meaningful experience—the one that makes the most sense for them—personally tailored to their particular interests and needs. To learn more about sessions, you can view current and past schedules


How many faculty are there?

Our conference typically features around 25 faculty a year, with additional sessions taught by fellows. To learn more, you can meet our faculty


Who are your faculty?

Our faculty are nationally-recognized writers, editors, agents, critics, translators, educators, publishers, and other creative writing professionals. They've published in venues like Guernica, Hobart, Ploughshares, The Believer, The Kenyon ReviewThe New Yorker, and Tin House. They've written criticism and reviews for LitHub, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. They've received honors and awards including Guggenheim Fellowships, the Lambda Literary Award, the Locus, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, NEA Fellowships, the O. Henry Prize, and more. To learn more, you can view current and past faculty. 


When did the conference start?

The conference was founded at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing in 2003 and, with the exception of 2010, has run every year since. To learn more about previous conferences, you can visit our faculty archiveview past faculty, or view past schedules


Where is the conference located?

The conference takes place in the historic quarter of Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. To learn more about our location, you can view travel information or visit our Getting Here page.


How do I get to the conference?

For directions, parking, and more, you can view travel information or visit our Getting Here page.


Where should I park?

Generally speaking, we recommend parking in the Fulton Center Parking Structure, which is the closest parking structure to the conference. Please note that parking is not free. For more information about parking, visit our Getting Here page.


Is the conference accessible by light-rail or bus?

Yes. Our light-rail stop is College Ave and Veterans Way; campus is also served by numerous modes of public transportation. For more information about public transportation, visit our Getting Here page.


Does registration include meals?

No. While the conference features a catered reception and offers complimentary coffee and water throughout the day, meals are not included as part of conference registration.


Will there be alcohol served at the catered reception?

No. Unfortunately there will be no alcohol served at the catered reception.


Can I bring my own food?

Yes. Conference attendees are welcome to bring their own food. However, please note that no refrigerators or other places to store food are available during the conference.


Where can I eat?

A number of restaurants, stores, and other dining options are located on campus and within walking distance from the conference.


I'm traveling. What should I pack?

Phoenix in late February is generally dry and temperate, with high temperatures around 70 degrees. As a desert, nights can be somewhat chilly. We recommend checking the weather and planning appropriately. For more information on packing, visit our travel page.


I'm traveling. Where should I stay?

A number of hotels, motels, and other lodging options are located within walking distance from the conference. For more information about lodging, you can visit our travel page.


How long is the conference?

The conference is two days long. Sessions begin around 8:00 a.m. and end around 5:00 p.m. Keynotes, readings, and other activities begin around 7:00 p.m. To find specific dates and learn more, view this year's schedule


When is the conference?

The conference typically occurs on a Friday and Saturday in mid to late February. To find specific dates and learn more, view this year's schedule


How many sessions are there?

The conference typically features around 50 sessions over two days, with five to six sessions running at the same time. To learn more about sessions, view this year's schedule


How long are sessions?

Sessions are typically one hour long, with ten to fifteen minute breaks in between each session and longer breaks for lunch and dinner. To find specific times and learn more, you can view this year's schedule


What kinds of sessions do you offer?

We offer a variety of craft talks, classes, panels, generative workshops, interviews, conversations, discussions, and q&a's. The conference also features advanced workshops, readings, socials, and other ways for people to connect with fellow attendees and deepen their conference experience. To learn more about sessions, you can view current and past schedules.


What topics do sessions cover?

Beyond major forms like poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, our conference covers a wide range of genres and topics, including but not limited to essays, memoirs, short stories, novels, hybrid forms, young adult middle grade, science fiction, fantasy, genre, fiction, travel writing, journalism, screenwriting, comics, graphic novels, and more. Several sessions are devoted to editors, agents, query letters, publishing, and other aspects of the business of writing. Special topics like climate change, immigration, and social justice feature prominently as well. To learn more about sessions, you can view current and past schedules.


What do you do in sessions?

While each session varies according to faculty and format, sessions typically feature a short lecture or presentation, small or large group discussion, in-class writing exercises and activities, and q&a. Panels, interviews, or similar formats may be more focused on conversation, discussion, and q&a. To learn more about sessions, you can view current and past schedules.


How many people attend the conference?

As a mid-sized conference, we create a more intimate, community-focused environment, drawing around 300 attendees a year.


How many people attend each session?

While most sessions average between 25 and 40 attendees, larger sessions or panels may draw as many as 70 or 80, with keynotes having hundreds of seats.  


How much does the conference cost to attend?

Early registration for the conference is $250. Standard registration is $300. Other discounts or options may be available. To learn more about registration, visit our registration page


When does early registration end?

Early registration ends December 31. To learn more about early registration, visit our registration page


Do you offer single-day passes?

Yes. Single-day passes are available for $150 each. To learn more about single-day passes, visit our registration page


Do you offer discounts for individuals?

Some discounts may be available. To learn more about discounts, visit our registration page


Do you offer discounts for groups or organizations?

Discounts for businesses, educational institutions, groups, or other organizations may be available through our sponsorship program. To learn more about sponsorships, visit our sponsorships page or contact Education Programs Coordinator Felicia Zamora at felicia.zamora@asu.edu


What is included in conference registration?

Conference registration includes full access to all craft talks, panels, workshops, keynotes, readings and other sessions included in the regular conference schedule. Registration also includes a discount for advanced workshops.


What are advanced workshops?

Advanced workshops provide opportunities for more intimate and intensive learning with selected conference faculty outside of the regular schedule. Each workshop is three hours long and takes place the day before the conference begins. Please note: advanced workshops are not included in conference registration and have additional fees. To learn more, you can view advanced workshops.


What is the exhibitor fair?

The exhibitor fair provides opportunities for conference attendees to interact with small presses, publishers, local businesses, or other groups. The exhibitor fair takes place on the grounds surrounding Old Main and runs throughout the conference. Exhibitors also present small activities or programs as part of the larger festivities. To learn more, you can meet our exhibitors.


Can I exhibit at the conference?

Yes. To exhibit at the conference, complete an exhibitor application form.  


How much does exhibiting cost?

Full spaces are $200. Half spaces are $100. For more information, visit our exhibitor application page.


What is included in exhibitor space?

Exhibitor space includes a 6’ table and two chairs, with additional opportunities for complimentary and/or discounted registrations, discounted advertising, programming, and more. For more information, visit our exhibitor application page.


Do you offer scholarships?

Yes. We currently offer a small number of scholarships for Arizona educators for individuals to attend the conference (covering the cost of tuition). To learn more about scholarships, visit our scholarships page


Do you offer fellowships?

Yes. We currently offer a number of full and partial fellowships for individuals to teach at the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference (covering the cost of tuition). To learn more about fellowships, visit our fellowships page.


Do you offer travel assistance or other forms of financial aid?

Unfortunately we are not able to offer any travel assistance or other forms of financial aid for scholarships or fellowships at this point in time. To learn more, you can visit our scholarships page or visit our fellowships page.


Do you offer volunteer positions?

While the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference has a small number of volunteers who help with registration, sessions, and other aspects of the conference, we are not accepting applications for volunteer positions at this point in time. That being said, you can sign up for our mailing list and select “Yes, I am interested in receiving more information about volunteering” to receive more information about volunteer opportunities as they become available.


Is there access to WiFi or internet?

Yes. Arizona State University offers free, public WiFi service to any individuals on campus. To access WiFi, connect with the network “ASU Guest” and follow the instructions provided on-screen.


Is there access to a printer?

While we do not have a printer for public use, public printers may be available at ASU Libraries. For more information about printing, visit the ASU Library website.


Will there be books available for purchase?

Books are available for purchase through the bookfair on the third floor of Old Main or, in some cases, through publishers at the exhibitor fair.


Can I bring my own books to get signed?

Yes. You are welcome to bring your own books to get signed. 


Can I get my books signed?

Yes. While there are no formal book signings during the conference, please feel free to approach faculty before or after their sessions to have your books signed.


What materials or supplies are included in registration? Is there anything I should bring?

All conference attendees will receive a complimentary tote bag and their conference program upon registration. Limited supplies of folders, journals, pens, and other materials may be available upon request. While the conference program includes several pages to take notes, attendees may wish to bring their own notepads, journals, laptop computers, or other devices and materials as they see fit. More information about conference supplies and materials will be sent to attendees via email as the conference approaches. 


Can I take photographs?

Yes. Photography at the conference is welcome. That being said, please be respectful of faculty, attendees, or other individuals who may not wish to have their pictures taken. 


Can I smoke on campus?

No. Unfortunately, ASU is a tobacco-free campus. If you would like to smoke, the nearest location is on the corner of College Ave and University, just a short walk away. Please note that this includes e-cigarettes. To learn more, visit ASU’s Tobacco-free Initiative page.


Can I receive Professional Development / Continuing Educational credit?

Yes. We’re happy to provide any certificates of completion or other documentation required for professional development programs. For more information about Continuing Education Unites (CEU’s), please contact Education Programs Coordinator Felicia Zamora at Felicia.zamora@asu.edu.


Is there a conference hashtag?

Yes. The hashtag for the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is #desertnightsrisingstars and #dnrs followed by the year (e.g. "#dnrs2019"). You can also use #piperwriters and #piperwritershouse.


How can I stay updated on conference-related news?

The best way to stay up to date with the conference is to sign up for our mailing list. You can also visit our facebook page and find the Desert Nights, Rising Stars facebook event, or follow us on instagram or twitter. Conference attendees will also receive regular updates via email after registration.


When does registration close?

Registration for the conference typically ends at the beginning of the week the conference is scheduled to take place. 


When does registration open?

Registration for next year's conference typically opens in early June. For specific dates and times, visit our registration page


Can I register late?

Yes. Late registrations may be available. For late registrations, please contact Education Programs Coordinator Felicia Zamora at Felicia.zamora@asu.edu.


Can I register at the conference itself?

Yes. While individuals can arrive at the conference and register the day-of, we cannot accept payments on site. As such, all registrations will still take place through an online portal as a late registration.


Can I purchase a registration to the conference as a gift?

Of course! Your friends are lucky to have you, what a thoughtful gift. To purchase a registration as a gift, simply register for the conference and enter the specified information as necessary and appropriate. For more information about gifts, contact Education Programs Coordinator Felicia Zamora at Felicia.zamora@asu.edu.  


Do you offer refunds?

Of course. To request a refund, please contact Education Programs Manager, Felicia Zamora at Felicia.zamora@asu.edu. All conference refunds will require a $25 processing fee.


Do you offer media passes?

Yes. A small number of media passes may be available for journalists or reporters writing features or articles about the conference. For more information on media passes, please contact Education Programs Coordinator Felicia Zamora at felicia.zamora@asu.edu.


Is the conference accessible?

Yes. The Piper Center is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for individuals of all abilities, including mobility, hearing, sight, and more. For more about accessibility, visit our accessibility page.


Do you offer advertising?

Yes. We offer a number of options for advertising in the conference program or distributing printed materials. To learn more, you can view our adveritising options.


Do you offer sponsorships?

Yes. The conference offers numerous ways for individuals, businesses, or other organizations to make a contribution to the conference. To learn more, you can view our sponsorship levels and benefits


When will the schedule be announced?

Conference schedules are typically announced in late August or early September each year. To learn more, you can view current and past schedules


When will faculty be announced?

Conference faculty are typically announced in late May or early June of each year. To learn more, you can view current and past faculty


When do scholarships open?

Conference scholarships typically open in late August or early September of each year. To learn more, visit our scholarships page


When do scholarships close?

Scholarships typically close in late November or early December. For specific dates and times, visit our scholarship page


When do fellowships open?

Fellowships typically open in late March or early April. For specific dates and times, visit our fellowships page


When do fellowships close?

Fellowships typically close in late June or early July. For specific dates and times, visit our fellowship page