As a student of Creative Writing here at Arizona State University, I have had the opportunity to experience much of what is offered by the university to our literary crowd. Distinguished authors and poets are slated to come to campus every semester and give readings as wells as take part in the ever popular Q&A sessions held for the public. I have had the pleasure of attending a number of these events yet there is one event on the horizon which is going to be new to me. The Desert Nights Rising Stars writing conference is held annually right here on campus, and as an intern for Haydens Ferry Review I get the opportunity of going to it this year. For those of you who have never heard of it, and for those of you who have, and are interested in coming, I have put together a list of five questions that I thought particularly pertinent to have answered for my edification and curiosity, as well as for those who might happen along this post.

1.) Why there? Why then? (What atmosphere can participants expect to experience? "Readings? Panels? Night Life? Extra-Curricular?")

The conference is held in Tempe, on ASU's campus. We enjoy 300 days a year of sunshine and get to see a wide range of people and personalities. The area surrounding the 642 acre campus is bustling with a large number of eateries, and places for entertainment. Mill Avenue is a hot spot for students, tourists and locals alike. It has a varied selection of night clubs and bars, a couple movie theaters, and plenty of restaurants and shops. It's a blast just to take a nightly stroll down this strip and see all the characters of Arizona out at play.

The conference runs from March 3-6 and is aiming for a “renewed emphasis of developing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a true community of writers.” There will be an opening banquet along with introductions of faculty, and the first of many readings along with plenty of time to mingle amongst fellow writers and poets. Over the following days, participants get to partake in small group writing sessions, discussion classes, multi-faculty Q&A's, faculty readings, and there are also intimate Master Classes which are a bit extra in cost, but very beneficial to those wanting feedback on their manuscripts from some of the best writers out there.

2.) Walking away smiling? (What will participants gain from this conference i.e. what aspects of craft will be focused on?)

There is really going to be something for everybody here. Poets, fiction and nonfiction writers all stand to gain something from the classes taught by the distinguished faculty. Participants get the chance to hone their craft in the classroom with these accomplished writers, sharing dialogue during classes, readings, and other events. By keeping the number of participants small, participants are offered an experience that is both intimate and affordable, all while maintaining a commitment to be the premier writers conference in the west.

3.) "Amateur at best" or "The best, no amateurs?" (What level of writers will benefit the most from this conference?)

The conference brings writers of all levels together for four exhilarating days. There have been high school and college students, as well as members of the general public from near and far who have attended the conference in the past and have added to their varying degrees of writing and critical skills. For the more developed writer, the conference has much to offer but the master classes are highly recommended as well.

4.) Where can one hang one's hat? (What kind of accommodations are there for conference goers? "Participating Hotels, package deals? Transportation?")

Please see the lodging link.

5.) Who are these people? (How and who gets selected for the privilege of leading/teaching these workshops?)

Our writers conference is staffed by accomplished writers and teachers from across the country and beyond. I am personally very excited about getting a chance to meet Andrea Barrett (National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist) who will be teaching a master fiction class. Other exciting names include, Gretel Ehrlich (Nonfiction Master Class Instructor), Tony Hoagland (Poetry), Naeem Murr (fiction), Antonya Nelson (Fiction), C. Dale Young (Poetry).

For more information and registration details please Click Here