The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Conference Schedule Saturday, Feb 22, 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 Saturday, keep reading

You can also find conference sessions on Friday, find 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 Saturday, February 22

Starting Stories
Matt Bell, Peter Twal, Nafissa Thompson Spires

More information about this session is coming soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Fiction, Novels, Short Stories, Writing Process

For industry newcomers, the process of getting your book agented and working with that agent to get it edited and picked up can be mysterious and daunting.  What are agents looking for and what do they want from a client? What do you want from your agent, once you get one? And what should your working relationship look like? In this session, particiants explore the process of landing an agent and working with them once you have an agent. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Heritage, University Club; Presentation; Agents, Business of Writing, Editing, Publishing

Writing often describes work other than the work of writing to build narratives, images, and/or metaphors. For example, what do the chapters dedicated to whaling in Moby-Dick do? The making of chutney in Midnight's Children?  The preparation of lengua in Laurie Ann Guerrero's Preparing the Tongue‚ the cutting of greens in Lucille Clifton "cutting greens," the building of a Ford engine in Middlesex? Writing can document the process of other forms for creative purposes, certainly, but how far can this go and to what end?

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Thoren, University Club; Craft Talk, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Mixed Genre

We are told "show, don't tell." And while this is a useful adage, just where does it come from? What does it prevent us from saying? What political inquiry is shut down as a result? In this session, we will look at the power of statement in poetry.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Basha, Old Main; Craft Talk, Presentation, Workshop; Creative Practice, Poetry, Social Justice

Poet and playwright Sharon Bridgforth says of her work, "like most things that I do, it started inside of my own bone marrow and blood memories." In what ways do we write our memories as People of Color and Queer people? How do we survive in literary traditions and forms beyond those, like the literary canon, embedded in heteronormativity and white supremacy? This session will explore how we disrupt and transform narratives of "normal" in our writing to include narratives and experiences of disability, race, gender, and/or class.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Traditions, University Club; Discussion, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Disability Studies, Gender, Gender Studies, LGBTQIA Studies, Mixed Genre, Race, Social Justice

In Translation
Ryka Aoki, Alberto Rios, Laura Tohe, Ingrid Rojas Contreras

More information about this session is coming soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Translation

Too often sex in fiction devolves into ghastly metaphor and unpleasant perviness, when passion can (and should!) be used to develop character, heighten conflict, and advance plot. Join New York Times bestselling romance author Sarah MacLean for a discussion of how to write love scenes that strengthen your book and satisfy readers, without being silly, stilted or shaming. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Heritage, University Club; Craft Talk, Discussion, Presentation; Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Mixed Genre, Romance

This session explores broad approaches to identifying and developing new writing projects based on our personal histories. Which moments are rife with raw material and exploding with potential? How does one excavate facts, details, and meaning from everyday experiences? A blend of lecture and generative exercises, this session will help writers identify which personal experiences might tell a good story while structuring the events for maximum clarity and emotional impact. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Thoren, University Club; Craft Talk, Generative Workshop, Lecture, Workshop; Autobiography, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Personal Essays

Writing is not only deeply personal but cultural. What better place to discover the nuances of cultural experience than within your own family? Our parents, grandparents, aunts, and cousins are great sources of knowledge. In this generative seminar, we'll explore the complications of and uses for conducting family interviews to enrich your writing as well as contemplate when we should expand on a familial experience to craft more compelling stories. We'll brainstorm potential interviewees and questions we may put to them.  

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Basha, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Seminar, Workshop; Creative Nonfiction, Family History, Journalism, Memoir, Mixed Genre, Personal Essays, Research

Framed around three stories of violence and death on the border, we will look at the various ways a story can be told—as a song, a poem, an oral history, a video, or a short story. In this way we will not only question how genre bending can influence how we write violence, but how the modes we choose as writers can serve to ask poignant questions or to fetishize. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Traditions, University Club; Discussion, Presentation; Latinx Studies, Mixed Genre, Social Justice

Unarcheology is a queer, anticolonial orientation that asks us to examine how texts, objects, artifacts, bodies, and histories have been dug up and narrated in service of particular, oppressive ideologies—what we might understand as a form of archeology. Informed by queer, anticolonial aesthetic practices like collage and autoethnography, unarcheology asks that we intentionally engage our poetics in service of putting back‚ or reburying, restoring complexity and dignity to those texts and subverting those oppressive ideologies.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Tooker, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Performative Workshop, Workshop; Creative Practice, Experimental, Hybrid, LGBTQIA Studies, Mixed Genre, Race, Research, Social Justice

Hear work from the graduate students of ASU’s Creative Writing program during the lunch break

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Reading; Mixed Genre, Students

The Politics of Writing
Sherwin Bitsui, Saretta Morgan, Solmaz Sharif

More information about this session is coming soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Mixed Genre

This talk is about the dislocations of exile(s) and immigration, the fresh eyes on culture it produces, and how it informs and, ultimately, changes both exiles and culture.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; Craft Talk, Talk; Human Rights, Mixed Genre

What would it mean to carry out justice in our fiction, given the realities of our unjust world? How do fictional villains differ from real-life ones? Should the hero's journey be a blueprint for stories when saving the climate requires movements and communities? Can we use the tools of speculative world building to prefigure a truly just and sustainable future? Touching on imaginative greats like Ursula K.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Thoren, University Club; Craft Talk, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Fiction, Novels, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Social Justice

Our bodies are vessels for storytelling. Our eyes whisper truth, our lungs scream sorrow, our feet voyage between the past and the present. This generative writing session, led by Peggy Robles-Alvarado and open to all genres and writing levels, pulls at the memories we carry in our bodies and calls on the muse that lives in our muscles, freckles, bones, and scars.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Basha, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Workshop; Mixed Genre

The sonnet is a poetic form that writers have turned to for centuries, and it endures thanks to its incredible malleability. In this session, we will talk about the sonnet not as experts, but as writers who are attempting to contribute to the "sonnet conversation" that poets have atttempted to weigh in on for so long, focusing specifically on the vehicle of the American Sonnet in our work. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Traditions, University Club; Workshop; Poetry

In recent discussions of cultivating culturally relevant studies of literature in creative writing workshops, writers who have historically been marginalized continue to insist on creating space for the study and acknowledgement of their literary and artistic predecessors and influences. In this generative session, participants will read short pieces of poetry and prose that speak to the importance of honoring our cultural ancestors and their influence on our current writing lives and identities.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Tooker, Old Main; Generative Workshop, Workshop; Creative Nonfiction, Creative Practice, Fiction, Mixed Genre, Poetry

In this generative session, we will pinpoint the places where magic resides in autobiographical poetry. Through personal exploration and group discussion, we will find places where truth and magic touch, will discover how magic renders truth truer, begets an attentiveness in the reader, and locates moments more deeply in the experiential. All this opens narrative poetics to new possibilities of phantasmagoria and wonder. We will briefly examine contemporary poems containing some of these elements.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tooker, Old Main; Discussion, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Autobiography, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Poetry

First Book
Ivelisse Rodriguez, Vanessa Hua, Andrea Avery

More information about this session is coming soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Business of Writing, Publishing

E-readers and increased time demands have shifted how many readers consume stories. Shorter fiction (from flash fiction to novellas) is more manageable for writers and readers, quicker to publication and often more profitable than longer works. New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole has written in many series, and produced works of all lengths. In this session, he'll show you how to plot a series, provide some basic structures to use, and point out ways that your shorter fiction can create a new audience for your longer-form fiction.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; Craft Talk, Presentation, Workshop; Fiction, Mixed Genre, Novels, Publishing, Short Stories

The more specific the story, the more universal its reach‚ or so the adage goes. As queer people of color, however, the people we write for and about are rarely in the workshop or on the masthead. How do we write the stories only we can tell when educational and editorial spaces do not reflect us? In this session, participants will discuss notions of audience that nourish our work; craft decisions that de-center a white straight gaze; and strategies for navigating feedback from people we're not legible to, especially when they hold power.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thoren, University Club; Conversation, Craft Talk, Discussion, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Criticism, Gender, LGBTQIA Studies, Race, Sexuality, Short Stories, Social Justice

Don Mee Choi’s Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016) is an intense embodiment of some of the most challenging values in contemporary American poetry: she uses archival photographs of the wars in Korea and Vietnam (many taken by her father, a photojournalist and a central figure in the book), her own childhood drawings, Korean words in ideograms, Korean words in transliterated English spellings (to mean what they mean in Korean and/or what their transliterations mean in English), nursery rhymes, librettos with stage directions, advertisements, newsreel voiceovers, and more.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Basha, Old Main; Craft Talk, Presentation; Experimental, Hybrid, Mixed Genre, Poetry

Writing in dialect or vernacular can be tricky. At its best, is can give one's writing an organic sense of place and perspective. When mishandled, however, dialect can offend readers, seem reductive, and cover lazy storytelling. This workshop covers dialect—why and how one might choose to incorporate it, the choices one has to make when using it, and how to self-check against exploitation and stereotyping.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Traditions, University Club; Craft Talk, Presentation, Workshop; Mixed Genre

Criticism and Revision
Natalie Scenters Zapico, Jenny Irish, Bill Konigsberg

More information about this session is coming soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Carson Ballroom, Old Main; Panel; Criticism, Mixed Genre, Revision

How do we make our poetry personal? How do we make it political? What techniques can we use to make our poetry bridge the gap between these modes? In this session, participants will explore the intersection between the the two, examining how poetry can bear witness to history, document our time, and imagine new futures. We will explore how to use mythology and the speculative, the recurring image, the collective voice, and the intersection between image and text to make our poems both intimate and politically powerful.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Heritage, University Club; Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Poetry, Social Justice

The challenge for writers who incorporate fantastical elements in their fiction is to sustain readers believability and emotional engagement amidst the unreal, the magical, supernatural, mythical, or surreal. Embedding fantasy in richly historical world-building is one of the most canonical solutions, whether the author pulls the historical details from one historical period/place or weaves from multiple traditions. Using passages from J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin and George R.R.

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Thoren, University Club; Craft Talk, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Mixed Genre, Novels, Short Stories, Speculative Fiction

Camus once said, "the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." Over sixty years later, we would not be remiss in thinking of ourselves as tasked with the same momentous duty. So how do we defend humanity with the might of our pens?

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Basha, Old Main; Conversation, Craft Talk, Discussion, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Climate Fiction, Fiction, Mixed Genre, Nature Writing

Beginning with the acknowledgment that the concept of “nature” itself establishes hierarchical relationships assuming human supremacy over other forms of being, this session will consider the logical extensions of that egocentrism through urban development practices in the United States and their relationships to colonial nationalism and environmental terrorism. Where do we find the language to begin undoing our current relationships to land? This session will include close-readings, a writing exercise and group feedback. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Traditions, University Club; Discussion, Generative Workshop, Presentation, Workshop; Mixed Genre