The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Conference Schedule, Friday, Feb 21, 2020

Featuring over 50 craft talks, workshops, panels, and presentations, the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference is eclectic, balanced, and diverse, providing comprehensive coverage of the creative writing field

To find sessions on Friday, keep reading

You can also find conference sessions on Saturdayfind advanced workshops on Thursday, or view the full schedule for this year. 

To learn more about the conference, you can meet our faculty or register for the conference today!

Find Sessions on Friday, February 21

Get to know your fellow conference attendees and the Piper Center team as we recognize our 2020 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Fellows and welcome you to this year’s Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Ceremony, Social;

Join memoirist, educator, and writer, Andrea Avery in an exploration on the processes in which we write about our own family. As a participant, you will use writing exercises focused on empathy, point of view, and personal truth to tell your family stories from your own perspectives. What happens 'after' a creative nonfiction book about your family comes to life in a public realm?

Friday, February 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Basha, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Presentation; Creative Nonfiction, Memoir

The experience of fiction as truth, as a representation of Truth (with a capital T!), is its singularly most impressive goal. To achieve this, an author must convince through the senses, says Flannery O'Connor in her essay, "Writing Short Fiction." Sensory details are at the core of writer's ability to show versus tell.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Traditions, University Club; Generative Workshop, Workshop; Fiction, Short Stories

Magical Realism
Alberto Álvaro Ríos

More information about this session is coming soon.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Heritage, University Club; Craft Talk, Presentation; Mixed Genre

What industry generates over a billion dollars a year and is run for women by women? Would you be surprised to learn that it's the romance industry? This session examines preconceived ideas about romance writing and seeks to illustrate how opinions on the romance industry have been misshaped by the patriarchy, are rooted in puritanical shame, and have been propagated throughout the centuries as dirty and shame-filled. Come with your inquiries and learn how this thriving and important genre defies preconceived notions, and how this exciting industry might be right for you! 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Tooker, Old Main; Presentation; Fiction, Romance

Queer Representation in Writing
Cathy Linh Che, Piper J Daniels, Kay Ulanday Barrett

More information about this session is coming soon.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; LGBTQIA Studies, Mixed Genre, Sexuality

In this session, we'll discuss the importance of worldbuilding in various formats and genres. We'll examine several key aspects of effective worldbuilding as well as techniques for revealing your created world to your readers. 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Craft Talk, Presentation, Seminar; Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Fiction, Mixed Genre, Science Fiction

This session will explore the current applications of poetry in medical settings via the body of work produced by healthcare providers and patients. Additionally, we'll explore the value of poetic therapy‚ from its American inceptions to its modern-day appropriation by medical schools, clinical facilities, and holistic healing practitioners‚ as well as the methodologies available to anyone interested in self-care and healing. 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Heritage, University Club; Craft Talk, Presentation; Poetry, Social Practice, Therapeutic Practice

Does the white gaze cause us to compromise or be less thorough in investigations of character and narrative? Do we curate ourselves when writing about suffering or trauma? As readers, do we come to marginalized or underrepresented literature with expectations? This session will bring Identity and Race into Watkins' investigation of audience, power, and white heteronormative supremacy.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Basha, Old Main; Conversation, Craft Talk, Discussion, Presentation; Fiction, Race, Sexuality

When we write about ourselves, in memoir and autofiction, it is easy to weigh down the reader with the darkness and drama in our lives. Humor is a way to create balance in tone. In this generative session, join essayist and short story writer, Natalie Lima, on an exploration of ways to use humor in our stories, particularly when writing about tough subject matter. This group will use prompts and short readings from contemporary funny writers to see the diversity of ways to add levity to our work.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Traditions, University Club; Craft Talk, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Personal Essays

Veterans Reading
Office for Veteran and Military and Academic Engagement

Hear work from veteran writers during the lunch break

Friday, February 21, 2020, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; Reading; Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Mixed Genre, Poetry

Hear work from undergraduate and graduate students participating in the Piper Center's creative writing mentoring program during the lunch break

Friday, February 21, 2020, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Reading; Mixed Genre, Students

Hear work from fellow conference attendees (or even read some yourself) at an open-mic style reading during the lunch break. Please note: as space is limited, sign-ups for the open reading are first-come, first-served. Sign-up will open at 12:15 p.m. Participants should prepare to read no more than 5 minutes of material.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Reading; Mixed Genre

This session will provide an overview of funding sources for your writing, inlcuding excerpts of successful project proposals and personal statements for artist funding opportunities and suggestions of how to make the most of your time during and after your fellowship/writers residency/or other creative space, whether it's one week or one year.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Presentation; Business of Writing, Professional Development

In the Indigenous Nation, the Navajo/Dine worldview everything is in motion and is reflected in the language that is verb-based and imagistic. This session focuses on images that speak for themselves and that open up to poetic interpretations on urgent environmental issues. How can poetic images convey the urgency of the issues that confront you on a level that comes from personal self-reflection and how does it resonate to other beings that inhabit the earth?

Friday, February 21, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; ;

Fiction is not the only literary kid on the block. Rather, children and teens need—and want—nonfiction material too. And thanks to curriculum standards, opportunities abound for writing nonfiction for them. Discover keys to unlocking success in a genre with increasing market and income opportunities. This session will cover idea generation to publication, including market needs, pitching tips, and current opportunities (including social media pitch contests). We will spotlight writing for magazines, and writing books for trade and educational publishers. 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Basha, Old Main; Presentation; Business of Writing, Children's Books, Creative Nonfiction, Marketing, Memoir, Middle Grade, Publishing, Young Adult Literature

How do we mine our darkest moments for story, and how do we sit in that place and get the story onto the page while maintaining our mental health? In this session, we will talk about how we as writers explore our own traumas in ways that allow us to be vulnerable and open, share the experience so that others can feel what we felt, and still keep ourselves separate enough to function in real life.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Traditions, University Club; Conversation, Discussion, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Creative Practice, Mixed Genre, Therapeutic Practice, Writing Practice, Writing Process

This session investigates or states the effects of having one's social identity (mis)represented by a popular media franchise. Poets like Morgan Parker are in conversation with media franchises, expressing how these popular icons influence one's social identity. Her collection, There Are Things More Beautiful Than Beyoncé, explores her complicated feelings towards Beyoncé as a symbol of Black women's strength and objectification.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thoren, University Club; Generative Workshop, Workshop; Poetry

Throughout literary history, the notion of story has been communicated through linear narrative carried to fruition by a traditional arc. Contemporary hybrid texts reject the idea that this formula is necessary to organize story and communicate meaning. When linear narrative is stripped away, what holds the story together? In this session, we'll explore the universality of the body and its sensory perceptions as an organizational mechanism to organize story and orient and impact the reader. 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Basha, University Club; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Experimental, Fiction, Hybrid, Mixed Genre, Short Stories

In this session, we will analyze the structure of the ensemble cast, using examples from film and literature. Through visual approaches, we will imagine methodologies for utilizing, manipulating, and breaking the form of the ensemble cast. How can we wield a multiplicity of voices to build and release tension, develop a narrative, and deconstruct the expectations of the form? 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Traditions, University Club; Craft Talk, Presentation; Fiction, Mixed Genre

In this generative session, we will examine how the constraints and limitations of the page affect form and content to produce work that expands beyond traditional scale and presentation. The session provides poets the chance to experiment with form and scale in order to generate work that centers their own narrative and desire for the freedom of movement that we're allowed once we stretch beyond the page and physically enter and reclaim space. The session will also provide poets with examples of contemporary work currently in conversation with the session.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tooker, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Experimental, Poetry

Publishing
Rosemarie Dombrowski, Sally Ball, Kirby Kim

More information for this session is coming soon.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Business of Writing, Publishing

Ecopoetry incorporates aspects of ecology into poetic practice. In particular, through both content and form, ecopoetry often examines the relationship between built and natural environments. In this experimental session, participants will explore the idea of eco-architecture as it applies to a poem's form and shape. The discussion will especially consider how an attentive experience of place and space affects our sense of that place, and explore how that sense can be recreated in poetry.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Experimental, Nature Writing, Poetry

Building Strong Characters
Michael A Stackpole, Tracey Baptiste, Sarah MacLean, Cristina García

More information about this session is coming soon.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Mixed Genre

Writing with Empathy
Nafissa Thompson Spires

Wicked witches, daydreamy princesses: flat characterization works well in fairy tales and other abbreviated forms, but literary fiction depends on depth and dimension. This generative writing session explores the need for empathy in all forms of solid characterization. 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Fiction, Mixed Genre

Ghosts have been inescapable in our lives, whether they be reminders of trauma or a versions of our lives that are now long gone. How do we ask questions about these ghosts in our writing? This session will look at how memoirists construct ghosts on the page and how they connect the concept of haunting to their lives and experiences. We will then discuss how participants might be haunted and how to bring their ghosts to life on the page.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Thoren, University Club; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Horror, Memoir, Personal Essays

From our dinner plates to Netflix specials like Ugly Delicious, food is everywhere. We care about food not only because it nourishes our bodies, but also because it allows us to access intimate parts of our lives and memories: our childhood, family, culture, community, and politics. Food is an important part of storytelling and vital to how we understand ourselves and our communities—that's why shows like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown are so popular.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Basha, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Memoir, Mixed Genre, Poetry, Short Stories

Much writing guidance advises us to just sit down and write. But that sage advice doesn't always deal with reality of what prevents us from writing. It's often not as simple as a butt not being in the chair. Rather, the anxiety that permeates us when we sit down to write is what prevents us from approaching the blank page. In this session, we will focus on writing through our fear and the negative emotions that too often thwart us. We will utilize goal-setting, journaling, and outlining, among other strategies, to write in spite of the dread that shows up at our writing desk.  

Friday, February 21, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Traditions, University Club; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Creative Practice, Writing Life, Writing Practice, Writing Process

This session will explore the intersections between the human, nonhuman, and the environment in a changing landscape. We'll discuss the weird history of our engagement with nature, science, climate, and the nonhuman as well as the proximity of this engagement to cultural and historical sites. This session will also provide generative exercises for discovering connections between the human/nonhuman and the environment. 

Friday, February 21, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Tooker, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Mixed Genre, Nature Writing, Science Fiction

Enjoy light refreshments and the company of fellow attendees as we celebrate another year of the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Reception;

Conference Keynote
Ingrid Rojas Contreras

More information about this session is coming soon.

Friday, February 21, 2020, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; ;