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The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Virtual Writers Conference

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Online (via Zoom)

Admission Fees

$225 early registration (before December 31)
$275 standard registration (after December 31)
$150 single day passes


While we would usually start things off with the beautiful desert weather and the southwestern landscape, things are a little different this year. With rising COVID cases in Arizona, restrictions surrounding travel around the nation, and ongoing orders against large public gatherings, we want to do what we can to provide a conference that feels safe and enjoyable for everyone during this stressful time. With this in mind, we’ve made the choice to move Desert Nights, Rising Stars 2021 to a completely virtual experience. In short, we’re moving the conference from our house to yours.

Our mission is to support writers at every stage of their development by providing challenging, diverse, and accessible educational opportunities. When you attend Desert Nights, you’ll be participating in lively discussions, sharing thoughtful feedback, and creating new work in a warm, welcoming, and supportive environment of peers. Wherever you are in your journey as a writer, we’re here to meet you.

Our faculty aren’t just here because they’re award-winning authors, editors, and other creative writing professionals with valuable knowledge and experiences to share. They’re here because they are educators and change agents to attend alongside you, give back to the community, and connect with other writers.

Our 2021 faculty include Sally Ball, Matt Bell, Mahogany L. Browne, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Alan Dean Foster, Tod Goldberg, Raquel Gutiérrez, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Linda Hogan, Jenny Irish, Beverly Jenkins, Kirby Kim, C.B. Lee, Connie J. Mableson, tanner menard, Christopher Morgan, Chantelle Aimee Osmond, Cynthia Pelayo, Evan Winter, and Erika T. Wurth. More faculty and fellows will be announced soon.

While our primary focus is craft, mechanics, and the various other nuts-and-bolts of narrative and poetic work, our conference provides comprehensive coverage of the creative writing field. Dive headfirst into genres like science fiction, romance, and young adult. Push the boundaries of what a text can be with found work, social practice, and compositional improvisation. Discuss how gender, sexuality, ability, and race intersect current issues of creative writing. Get insider tips about getting your work published and building an author platform with editor sessions and agent Q&As. Find inspiration and balance in conversations about creative practice and the writing life. Translation. Climate change. Storytelling. Social Justice. Journalism. Graphic novels. Epic Fantasy. Historical fiction. Need we say more?

And as if there weren’t enough to do within the sessions themselves, our conference is filled with opportunities for deeper learning and closer connections with faculty and fellow attendees.

• Hunker down in advanced three-hour workshops with your favorite faculty member before the conference.
• Unwind after a long day with some riveting keynote addresses.
• Pitch Editors and Agents in our limited pitch sessions.

This is a whole new world of programming for us and we wanted to get a head start now instead of waiting and watching throughout the semester. We are so deeply appreciative of the time you spend with us each year at Desert Nights and hope that you will let us bring the desert to you this year wherever that may be. We always want to do what is right for those who so generously gift us with their time, funding and passion for writing. We couldn’t do anything we do without all of you.

Meet our faculty, view the schedule, and register today at

Contact Information

Ashley Wilkins, Coordinator
(480) 965-7103
[email protected]


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