The 2015 Desert Writers’ Retreat

Dates: May 17-22
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Faculty: Colette Tennant; Jordan Hartt
Cost: Donation to the Kampala Writers’ Conference
This workshop is full: registration is now closed. 

The writing that happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas.

As writers we’re often told to “write what we know.” However, very often what we know is confined to our own backgrounds or beliefs, resulting in characters who are either thinly veiled versions of ourselves or are flat, lifeless stereotypes of other people.

If we’re not careful, these backgrounds and beliefs can limit us as writers.

This workshop is entitled “Faith, Doubt, and Wonder.” All of us have–or have had–faith in a religious or spiritual tradition, or faith in no tradition, or faith in a friendship or relationship, or the faith that the bridge under our sneakers will hold. Similarly, many of us experience or have experienced doubts in our faiths, in our friendships, in our relationships, in our employment or sense of security.

Is it possible to utilize these backgrounds and create a short piece of under 1,000 words?

In this workshop, these are the questions we’ll ask and explore.

We’ll begin by sharing three stories that will serve as fuel for discussion—and as raw material for fiction. We’ll share a story informed by our own faith background–faith in a religious tradition, or a relationship, or a job, or a friendship, etc.–and then a story informed by a time in which we experienced doubt of some kind. Finally, we’ll share a third story, in which we experienced either something wondrous–as each person individually defines it–or something unexplainable, something which we’ve never been able to understand: something wondrous or confusing or life-altering.

While these stories begin as individual pieces, we’ll also use elements of them to create collaborate pieces: meaning that you’ll leave this workshop not only with a new finished (and workshopped!) piece ready for further revision or submission, but with a new collaborative piece, as well.

Contact: [email protected]


Sunday, May 17: 6-9 pm: Welcome, orientation, and first session, “Faith.”
Monday, May 18: 10 am-1 pm: Class session, “Doubt.”
Tuesday, May 19: 10 am-1 pm: Class session, “Wonder.”
Wednesday, May 20: Writing day. (7-9 pm, optional discussion of Toni Morrison’s novel “God Help the Child.” Freewriting exercises based on novel.)
Thursday, May 21: 10 am-1 pm: workshop session. 7-9 pm: workshop session.
Friday, May 22: 11 am: farewell brunch


Colette Tennant received her Ph.D. in English from The Ohio State University. Her areas of study included American and British Literature; Women’s Literature; and, with Edward P.J. Corbett, Rhetoric and Teaching Composition. Her book Reading the Gothic in Margaret Atwood’s Novels was published in 2004. Her first book of poetry, Commotion of Wings, was published as an Editor’s Choice in 2010. Her second book of poetry, Eden and After, will be published July, 2015 by Tebot Bach Press in Huntington California. Tennant’s poems have also been individually published in many journals including Southern Poetry Review, Christianity and Literature, and Natural Bridge. Along with garnering national awards, her poetry was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. She regularly delivers papers at the Christianity and Literature Conferences, and in 2007 presented her paper “An Assyrian in Jerusalem” at the first Oxford University Round Table focused on literature. This is her twentieth year teaching at Corban.

Jordan Hartt
 is a writer, writing teacher, and community and events organizer. His work has appeared in about thirty different literary magazines and journals, including Another Chicago Magazine (ACM), Crab Creek Review, and Prose Poem. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Idaho, and has taught literature and creative writing at Peninsula College for the past seven years. He also runs the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, which annually brings 250 writers together for a week of immersion in writing workshops. Hartt’s first book is forthcoming in 2015.