News

Sirens Scholarship Fundraising: Exemplary Programming Proposals

Sirens has a mission: to provide a welcoming space for our attendees to discuss the remarkable, diverse women and nonbinary people of fantasy literature. Each year, Sirens raises funds to provide scholarships to help a number of people attend Sirens and add their voices to those conversations and community. Our scholarship fundraising will continue through November, but this week, we want to highlight the importance of our scholarships for those who submit exemplary programming proposals. Last week, we discussed our scholarships for people of color; future weeks will address scholarships for those with financial hardships, and librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.

Sirens’s programming might be different than anything you’ve seen before.

While many conferences select which topics are worthy of presentation, and which individuals are worthy of presenting those topics, Sirens takes a wholly different approach. We invite everyone attending Sirens to propose programming.

Let us say that again: We invite everyone attending Sirens—regardless of vocation, regardless of age, regardless of past Sirens attendance—to propose programming.

Each year, dozens of individuals—from readers to scholars to librarians to authors—propose the lectures, papers, panels, workshops, roundtables, and afternoon classes that become the presentations at Sirens. And each year, an independent vetting board, a diverse group of tremendous individuals who know and love Sirens, review those proposals for thoughtfulness and relevance, and then select which to include on that year’s programming schedule.

This process can be intimidating, especially for those new to Sirens: It takes a lot of courage to put your thoughts and analysis out there, first to a review board and then at Sirens itself.

But each year, dozens of individuals, some of them Sirens veterans and some of them first-time attendees, screw their courage to the proverbial sticking place and propose programming—and, in doing so, make Sirens smarter, more thoughtful, and just plain better.

And so, each year, we award scholarships to those who submit exemplary programming proposals. A scholarship review committee examines the accepted proposals of those who ask to be considered and selects three proposals to receive a scholarship. Each scholarship includes both a registration and a Sirens Shuttle ticket. There’s no separate application; presenters can opt in for consideration during the programming proposal submissions process.

While a thousand conversations happen at Sirens every year, the true vanguard of those discussions are the brave and brilliant individuals who share their wisdom and expertise as part of our programming.

If you can—whether that’s $5 or a full scholarship of $325—we hope that you’ll help us provide these scholarships!

 

Donate Now

You can donate any amount to these scholarships, and if you choose to donate—no matter the amount—we will feature you, under your chosen name (or anonymous), on our website and in our program book. More importantly, our Sirens team and our community will be grateful for your commitment both to those who might not otherwise be able to attend Sirens and to the inclusiveness of our community.

Donations for the scholarship program will be accepted through November 30, 2018.

Amount (in $USD):
Individual or Organization Name for Donation Credit:
If you leave this field blank, we will credit you as “Anonymous.”

Thank you for your support!

 

Tax Treatment

As Sirens operates under the auspices of Narrate Conferences, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations are eligible for tax deduction within the United States. Sirens staff are, of course, not eligible for scholarships (and, in fact, purchase their Sirens registrations and tickets like any other attendee). Any leftover or unclaimed funds will be considered donations to Sirens. If you have any questions or concerns, please write Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

Sirens Scholarship Fundraising: Jennifer Shimada

This year, as we raise funds for our annual scholarships, Sirens is featuring posts by past scholarship winners. We hope that these posts will help potential donors see the impact of these scholarships and how they work to make Sirens’s conversations and community more vibrant, more diverse, and more inclusive. This week, our guest post is by Jennifer Shimada, a past recipient of a Sirens scholarship for people of color, as administered by Con or Bust. Later this month, we’ll feature posts by other past recipients.

Sirens was designed for me. I knew that as soon as I heard about it in its very first year. A small conference centered specifically on women, on fantasy, and on literature, with a mixture of scholarly discussion and enthusiastic, nerdy fun? Nothing had ever sounded so much like me in my life. Plus, the three guests of honor that year–Kristin Cashore, Tamora Pierce, and Sherwood Smith–had all been incredibly formative for me as a reader, and I couldn’t believe I might have a chance to meet them in person. But I was a broke college student then, and while my parents agreed to gift me the flight from their frequent flyer credits, I couldn’t figure out how to get the time off class or the rest of the money I needed for the hotel and registration.

While I didn’t end up attending Sirens in 2009, I eagerly read recaps from attendees to live vicariously through their experiences. I continued to keep an eye on Sirens over the next six years, wishing I could attend and discuss themes like faeries or tales retold and meet other favorite authors who came as guests of honor or presenters. But year after year, money and time and life kept me from being able to go.

In 2015, I found out that the theme for Sirens was rebels and revolutionaries and started champing at the bit to attend. By this time, I had a full-time job with available vacation time, and could technically afford to go. But I’d never been to a literary conference or fan convention before, and I wouldn’t know anyone there. As a shy introvert who budgets carefully, I wasn’t sure if I could make the leap to spend that much money on something new and therefore scary.

Then I found out that for the first time, the Sirens community had donated money towards three scholarships specifically for people of color, to be administered by Con or Bust. And once again, it felt like Sirens was designed for me.

Only this time, it wasn’t just that Sirens was designed to include me, a woman who reads fantasy literature, but also that it was designed to include me, a woman of color who reads fantasy literature.

I applied for the scholarship and received it, I earned enough airline credit for a free flight, I found a stranger online who was willing to be my roommate…and I ran out of excuses not to attend.

Once I got to Sirens, I found that the community was, just as the scholarship indicated, eager to welcome and listen to a woman of color who wasn’t even a scholar or author or publishing professional. The conversations, both formal and informal, discussed not only white, able-bodied, cishet women, but women of many intersecting, often marginalized identities. Though no community is perfectly inclusive and equitable, the people who attend Sirens are generally willing to listen, to learn, and to work to change both themselves and Sirens for the better.

I live in a world that often tells women of color like me that we don’t belong, that our voices don’t matter. But the Sirens community reached out through Con or Bust and that scholarship to tell me that they thought my voice was important. And now, as a proud member of the Sirens community myself, I’m asking my fellow Sirens: please donate towards the twelve Sirens scholarships. By giving even just a few dollars, we tell people of color, presenters, those with financial hardships, and professionals that we see them, that their voices matter, and that we want them to join our community. Sirens is designed for them, too.


Jennifer Shimada is a fantasy reader, tea drinker, world traveler, and academic librarian. She is originally from California, earned a BA in history in Texas, taught 5th grade in Oklahoma, and currently works at a graduate school of education in New York. Along the way, Jennifer earned a MLIS from San Jose State University.


 

Donate Now

You can donate any amount to these scholarships, and if you choose to donate—no matter the amount—we will feature you, under your chosen name (or anonymous), on our website and in our program book. More importantly, our Sirens team and our community will be grateful for your commitment both to those who might not otherwise be able to attend Sirens and to the inclusiveness of our community.

Donations for the scholarship program will be accepted through November 30, 2018.

Amount (in $USD):
Individual or Organization Name for Donation Credit:
If you leave this field blank, we will credit you as “Anonymous.”

Thank you for your support!

 

Tax Treatment

As Sirens operates under the auspices of Narrate Conferences, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations are eligible for tax deduction within the United States. Sirens staff are, of course, not eligible for scholarships (and, in fact, purchase their Sirens registrations and tickets like any other attendee). Any leftover or unclaimed funds will be considered donations to Sirens. If you have any questions or concerns, please write Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

Sirens Scholarship Fundraising: People of Color

Sirens has a mission: to provide a welcoming space for our attendees to discuss the remarkable, diverse women and nonbinary people of fantasy literature. Each year, Sirens raises funds to provide scholarships to help a number of people attend Sirens and add their voices to those conversations and community. Our scholarship fundraising will continue through November, but this week, we wanted to highlight the importance of our scholarships for people of color. Future weeks will address scholarships for those who submit exemplary programming proposals; those with financial hardships; and librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.

Sirens is built on a thousand conversations. We have specifically designed Sirens to be an interdisciplinary conference, where a reader’s interpretation of a book is just as important as an author’s intent in writing it, where a scholar can learn from a librarian, and where a teacher and a bookseller can collaborate on a course curriculum for learning through fantasy literature.

But also critical to those conversations are diversity and inclusiveness. Are people of all genders, all sexualities, all races, all religions, all national origins, all abilities, all ages, all body types, and all other identities welcome not only at Sirens, but in those conversations? Are they able to both speak and be heard? Are their voices critical to not only their own Sirens experience, but to everyone’s Sirens experience?

Can you help us reach our goal of including more voices in Sirens?

Over our decade of presenting Sirens, we have learned that, while some voices are readily welcomed and readily heard, other voices—such as those of people of color—are too often lost in the crowd or are silenced entirely.

Too often, conferences—even in our speculative spaces where authors can and do write impossible worlds full of magic and wonder—are overwhelmingly white. Too often, the voices at these conferences—guests of honor, presenters, conference staff, volunteers—are overwhelmingly white. Too often, conferences make a broad commitment to diversity, but don’t follow through to make that commitment real. It can be exceptionally difficult for people of color to enter, participate, and be heard in those spaces, let alone play a critical role in them.

One actionable way for our community to increase inclusivity at Sirens is to provide scholarships to help people of color attend. This year, we are seeking funds to provide three people of color with both a Sirens registration and a round-trip Sirens Shuttle ticket. Once funded, we will provide these scholarships to Con or Bust, a tremendous organization that provides assistance to fans of color/non-white fans who wish to attend science fiction/fantasy cons. Con or Bust will allocate these scholarships in accordance with its rules.

Sirens is built on a thousand conversations. But the value of those conversations—and the value of the community born of those conversations—is built on the diversity of voices that participate in those conversations.

If you can—whether that’s $5 or a full scholarship of $325—we hope that you’ll help us provide these scholarships!

 

Donate Now

You can donate any amount to these scholarships, and if you choose to donate—no matter the amount—we will feature you, under your chosen name (or anonymous), on our website and in our program book. More importantly, our Sirens team and our community will be grateful for your commitment both to those who might not otherwise be able to attend Sirens and to the inclusiveness of our community.

Donations for the scholarship program will be accepted through November 30, 2018.

Amount (in $USD):
Individual or Organization Name for Donation Credit:
If you leave this field blank, we will credit you as “Anonymous.”

Thank you for your support!

 

Tax Treatment

As Sirens operates under the auspices of Narrate Conferences, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations are eligible for tax deduction within the United States. Sirens staff are, of course, not eligible for scholarships (and, in fact, purchase their Sirens registrations and tickets like any other attendee). Any leftover or unclaimed funds will be considered donations to Sirens. If you have any questions or concerns, please write Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

New Fantasy Books: November 2018

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of November 2018 fantasy book releases by and about women and nonbinary folk. Let us know what you’re looking forward to, or any titles that we’ve missed, in the comments!

 

Sirens Scholarship Fundraising

Can you help us reach our goal of including more voices in Sirens?

Sirens has a mission: to provide a welcoming space for our attendees to discuss the remarkable, diverse women and nonbinary people of fantasy literature. As part of that mission, we specifically craft Sirens to include and amplify the many brilliant voices of our attendees. Our greatest hope is that these voices will represent both different perspectives—reader, scholar, educator, librarian, author—and individuals of different genders, sexualities, races, religions, and abilities.

Each year, we invite the Sirens community to help make attendance possible for a number of individuals. As in past years, these scholarships will support people of color, those submitting exemplary programming proposals, those with financial hardships, and librarians, educators, and publishing professionals. These perspectives are critical to our conversations, and these individuals sometimes find it difficult to attend without additional support.

We are asking for your help! We want to provide twelve Sirens scholarships this year. To do so, we need to raise $3,900. That amount will provide a Sirens registration and a round-trip Sirens Shuttle ticket to each recipient.

We know that, just like in previous years, our community can make Sirens possible for others.

 

Donate Now

You can donate any amount to these scholarships, and if you choose to donate—no matter the amount—we will feature you, under your chosen name (or anonymous), on our website and in our program book. More importantly, our Sirens team and the Sirens community will be grateful for your commitment both to those who might not otherwise be able to attend Sirens and to the inclusiveness of our community.

Donations for the scholarship program will be accepted through November 30, 2018.

Amount (in $USD):
Individual or Organization Name for Donation Credit:
If you leave this field blank, we will credit you as “Anonymous.”

Thank you for your support!

 

Scholarship Donors

Brandi
Collin
Jeffrey Miller
Rook
Jennifer Shimada
Simon
Amy Tenbrink
Hallie Tibbetts


 

What kinds of scholarships will be available?

Scholarships will cover both a Sirens registration and a Sirens Shuttle ticket for each recipient. We’re hoping to receive enough funds to cover the following proposed scholarships, designed to serve a multitude of potential attendees. But in the event that we don’t, we will fund scholarships in the following order:

  • Con or Bust
    Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend science fiction and fantasy conventions. This year, Sirens would like to provide Con or Bust with three scholarships in order to help people of color/non-white people attend Sirens. Con or Bust will allocate these registrations according to its rules.

  • Programming Presenters
    Every voice at Sirens is vital to the vibrancy and diversity of our conversations, but we always appreciate the skill, talent, and expertise that our accepted programming presenters have volunteered to share. This year, we’d again like to recognize three exemplary programming proposals with scholarships. These are merit-based scholarships and will be selected by a committee. (The selection committee may, in cases where an exemplary proposal has multiple presenters requesting scholarship support, elect to share the award across multiple presenters.)

  • Financial Hardship
    People sometimes say that money makes the world go ‘round; we’d like to counter with the idea that generosity makes the world go ‘round. Not all individuals who wish to attend Sirens can afford to do so, and you can help make Sirens a possibility for those who can’t. Sirens would like to award three selected recipients with a scholarship, in the hopes that this will enable them to attend Sirens in the fall. Recipients will be chosen randomly from those who seek assistance.

  • Professionals
    Librarians, educators, and publishing professionals so often provide exceptional services to book-loving communities—and are, especially at the beginning of their careers or when working for underserved populations, so often paid poorly for their efforts. Therefore, we would like to raise funds to allow one librarian, one educator, and one publishing professional to attend Sirens. Their work—and their voices—are critically important to our conversations.

 

Why doesn’t Sirens fund the scholarships?

Sirens endeavors to keep the cost of Sirens as low as possible for everyone. Each year, we raise thousands of dollars in donations, auction proceeds, and other fundraising to cover the cost of presenting Sirens itself—costs that include not only overhead items like audiovisual equipment and insurance, but also a portion of individual attendee costs like food and registration t-shirts.

We could simply raise our registration prices. But instead, we suppress our registration prices—and then ask those who are able to pay more to donate, to purchase auction items, and to fund scholarships. We hope that, if you can, you’ll help us raise these funds!

 

Tax Treatment

As Sirens operates under the auspices of Narrate Conferences, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations are eligible for tax deduction within the United States. Sirens staff are, of course, not eligible for scholarships (and, in fact, purchase their Sirens registrations and tickets like any other attendee). Any leftover or unclaimed funds will be considered donations to Sirens. If you have any questions or concerns, please write Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 11 (October 2018)

In this issue:

 

GET READY FOR SIRENS

Sirens is only days away, and if you’re attending the Studio, you’re possibly already en route! Before you arrive in Beaver Creek, you might want to check off a few housekeeping items to ensure you have a great conference!

 

VOLUNTEER

We’re still looking to fill our volunteer shifts for this year’s programming. We have 5 spots remaining, and could use your help! Please check out our Volunteer page for more information, and thank you!

 

INSTRUCTION EMAILS

This past week, we sent out detailed instruction emails for the Sirens Shuttle, the Sirens Studio, the Sirens Supper, and registration check-in. Presenters should have also received an email with information and tips. If you emailed us about dietary concerns and haven’t received a response, and for any other missing emails, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org).

 

CONTACTING US DURING SIRENS

Many staff members have already arrived in Colorado and are in the thick of Sirens preparations. While we’re unpacking materials and setting up for the conference, we won’t be able to monitor our emails as closely as we normally would. If you have an urgent question prior to arriving on-site, please email (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Once the conference starts, the easiest way to reach us is in person! If you have any questions or simply want to chat, our information desk in Grouse Mountain Room will be open starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 25.

 

TWITTER

Starting tomorrow, October 23, we’ll be tweeting up a storm at our @sirens_con handle as Sirens will begin in earnest! We’ll be sharing programming schedule reminders, snippets from each session, and other goings-on at the conference. If you prefer not to receive these notifications, you can mute us and check back on Monday, October 29.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …

Guest of Honor Interviews:

Books and Breakfast Spotlights:

Where Are They Now: Past Sirens Guests of Honor:


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

First Time at Sirens? 11 Tips and Tricks

In just a few short days, we’ll be welcoming attendees to our tenth annual Sirens! While we’re excited to celebrate our conference theme of reunion, we also know that for many of you, this will be your first time attending—so read on for some tips, tricks, and general things to know before you start your journey to Colorado:

  1. Follow us on Twitter at @sirens_con and the event hashtag #Sirens18 (if you haven’t already!). We’ll be tweeting programming reminders, last-minute changes, quotes from presenters and guests, pictures of things like auction items, and more!

  2. Come to our new-attendee session. We’re hosting a session specifically for new attendees on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. in the McCoy’s Peak room. You’ll have a chance to hear more about how Sirens works, ask all your questions, and meet other new attendees.

  3. Find a Sirens Ambassador. We’ve appointed 19 seasoned attendees as Sirens ambassadors, specifically so our new attendees will be able to find a friendly face in the crowd. Our ambassadors will be wearing a special button when they’re available for conversations. Feel free to pepper them with your questions or find them when you’re feeling adrift or out of place—they’re here to help!

  4. Start a conversation. Everyone at Sirens is a reader. Whether you’re waiting for the shuttle, lounging in the hotel lobby, or eating at a table, it’s easy to use book talk to break the ice.

  5. Attend programming. Sirens’s programming is presented by our attendees, for our attendees—and as everyone’s voice at Sirens is vital to our community, our presenters include readers, librarians, and educators, as well as the scholars, authors, and professionals that you might be expecting. We’ve had a record year of proposal submissions and are able to offer four tracks of programming! Check out our full schedule and our summaries of programming, geek out over what’s being offered, and plan out your day. Conversations are highly encouraged in between sessions, and sometimes even during sessions, like in the case of roundtables or Q&As.

  6. Seating is open. Unless the seat is specified as “Reserved,” feel free to sit anywhere while at programming, Books and Breakfast, Bedtime Stories, the community room, or at meals—but please leave the seating closest to doors and aisles open for attendees who might need a closer seat or some extra room to maneuver.

  7. Looking for a group for dinner? Check the program book. We’ll have a list of meet-up times and locations, as well as a list of dining recommendations.

  8. We have a bookstore, specially stocked with over a thousand fantasy titles by women and nonbinary authors. If you want recommendations, we’re holding Books with Amy and Faye at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday and 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Friday in the community room, when the staff will try to sell you books upon books. A word of warning: we’re pretty good at it—some people save their book money all year for our bookstore and some bring a second suitcase to take their treasures home! Shipping is also available for a fee (media mail, in the United States only).

  9. We have an auction, of amazing items, some hand-crafted, some one-of-a-kind, some that you simply won’t want to leave behind. The proceeds are crucial to covering a large portion of Sirens’s expenses and keeping our prices down. Your registration bag will include information about the auction and a list of offered items. We hope you’ll bid early and often!

  10. Check out our accessibility policy. Sirens is committed to making the conference accessible for a variety of individuals, but we need your help to do so. Please take a look at our accessibility policy (and also printed in your program book), and then consider how you might help make Sirens accessible for others.

  11. Bring a bathing suit! The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, and five, count ‘em, five hot tubs. Not to mention Aqua Sanitas—a special water ritual at the spa accessible for an additional fee.

Any more questions? Please do come to our in-person, new-attendee session:

Thursday, October 25 at 5:00 p.m.
Sirens New Attendee Orientation
McCoy’s Peak
(room) next door to registration
Gerald R. Ford Hall (meeting level)
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa

We can’t wait to meet you at Sirens!

A version of this post initially ran in October 2017.

 

The Official Sirens Guide to Surviving the Altitude

A week from today, some of you will already be frolicking in Beaver Creek, and the rest of you won’t be far behind! And we know, some of you may be thinking, oh, the altitude, it’ll be fiiine. For some of you, that might be true! But those of us whose homes are at sea level, who don’t train for hikes in Machu Picchu or own season ski passes, read on: This post is for you.

Fact: Colorado has the highest average altitude in the United States, and is the seventh driest state. Much of it is actually a high-plains desert. If you’ve been to Denver, you’ll know it’s not called the Mile-High City for nothing: The steps of the State Capitol are at 5,280 feet. In Beaver Creek, the average elevation is a whopping 3,000 feet higher at 8,100 feet. (For reference, most airplane cabins are pressurized between 5,000–8,000 feet as a safe and healthy range for most people.)

In Beaver Creek, the sky is bluer, the sun is brighter, and the air is thinner—which means less oxygen going to your brain. You might breathe more quickly, find yourself in need of a nap, or be prone to headaches. But! You can help avoid dehydration and other dastardly effects of altitude with these tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration and high altitude can both bring headaches. Drink water early and often—you can even drink a sports drink, with electrolytes, for an extra boost. For a good rule of thumb, drink whenever you see our conference co-chair Sabrina Chin take a sip. (The rallying call for this is, “When Sabrina drinks, you drink!”) And we’ve got you covered: We’ll have Sirens water bottles, with some of our fabulous artwork, for sale in our community room.

  • Balm it up. Because of the lack of moisture in the air, you might need to apply extra lip balm, nasal spray, eye drops, and lotion to keep yourself comfortable.

  • Eat a snack. May your bellies be full. With high altitude can come a bigger appetite—your body is working extra hard to compensate for less oxygen and lower temperatures.

  • Be aware of the sun. Thinner air means less protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Whether you burn easily at sea level or not, you will in Beaver Creek—so make sure that you cover up and apply sunscreen if you’re going for a hike or enjoying the grounds. Bring your sunglasses, too! Believe us, your eyes can burn.

  • You might need more sleep than usual. Or you might be really tired from the plane ride in, or suffering from jetlag or insomnia. Nevertheless, lethargy is real in the mountains. Who says naps are only for babies?

  • Alcohol will have a greater effect on you, so imbibe judiciously. One drink at sea level equals two or even three in the mountains. Please consider moderating your drinking—and drink plenty of water during and afterwards. If not, your headache the next morning probably isn’t altitude sickness; it’s a hangover. (And if you complain, we will be tempted to give you the side-eye…)

  • If you feel a headache coming in, up your fluid intake and try taking ordinary painkillers. Chances are, you’ll feel much better with some rest, too.

  • If you’re struggling with the altitude, consider altitude pills or supplemental oxygen. Some people have found that these help; some people think these are nonsense to take advantage of tourists. Regardless, the Beaver Creek Market, just minutes from the Park Hyatt, will sell you both.

If your headache does not respond to more water and ordinary painkillers, and is accompanied by nausea, extreme fatigue, inability to sleep, swelling, or continued rapid heartbeat, please see the hotel’s front desk. You are within the small percentage of people misfortunate enough to experience altitude sickness. While altitude sickness generally clears up within a few days, the Park Hyatt can help with treatment options.

For more information in the meantime, you can check out our page on Altitude. Any other questions, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org). We’re looking forward to seeing you all next week, and we want your experience at Sirens to be amazing!

A version of this post initially ran in October 2017.

 

Read Along with Faye: Books I Read for the 2018 Reading Challenge

Success! After not meeting my goal last year, I’m proud to share that I’ve completed this year’s Sirens Reading Challenge: 26 books. Because it’s a reunion year, I had more books to read than a usual Sirens year—often, I’ve already read a few of the books on the required theme list and can get a bit of a boost. But with four themes to revisit, I was forced to abide by the asterisked rule per category: books I’d read previously, and authors I’ve read previously, were ineligible. That Amy Tenbrink, she’s sneaky.

Reading Challenge Collage: Faye Bi
*Unpictured: Violet Kupersmith’s The Frangipani Hotel, as I made this list prior to the change. But I have read it, though!

Here are some stray observations I offer to you, fellow readers, which you are welcome to discuss with me in the comments or in person at Sirens:

  • Novellas reign supreme in adult fantasy and science fiction. I like reading them, and publishers seem to like publishing them. Perhaps readers like myself—and publishers putting them out—are catching on that you don’t necessarily need a doorstopper to get a great fantasy book. It’s no surprise I chose to read them for this challenge; they’re quicker to read, are the perfect length to truly explore a concept and focus on craft, and you can really sink into it over short stories (some of which are over too quick!). Some of my favorite reads this year were novellas: Passing Strange and The Black Tides of Heaven.
     
  • I’m hard to impress in YA. YA has been rough for me for the past few years now. I refuse to lower my standards for YA books, having worked in children’s publishing for the last eight years. I have my favorite standbys, Laini Taylor and Megan Whalen Turner, who are ineligible for the challenge. Contemporary YA has been really exciting lately; I think I’m looking for diversity, worldbuilding, and craft in fantasy YA, and I couldn’t quite find a book this year—by a new author eligible for my challenge—that hit all three.
     
  • More pictures, please. One of the best books I read this year was The One Hundred Nights of Hero, which I’m a little surprised seems under the radar (or maybe it isn’t and I need new book friends?) But I didn’t get as much graphic novel love as I did last year, and I miss it.
     
  • I need to pace my reading for next year. What happened, inevitably, is that I inhaled all the books I was looking forward to reading at the beginning of 2018, and then stalled, and stalled, until late August when I realized I still had ten books left to go, none of which I was super looking forward to (though there were some surprises!). Because if I had, I would have read them earlier. It made for a pretty frantic last month.

The quick five-question survey, modified for reunion year.

Favorite Book: Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, which matches the rage I so often feel, especially this last week. Probably the best book I’ve read in the last five years, if I’m being honest.

Favorite Reunion Category: This is a tough one. Rebels and revolutionaries is my favorite theme that we’ve ever had, but this year, all the hauntings books I read were pretty great: The Walls Around Us, The Memory Trees, and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Followed by lovers, a category that was never really my favorite—but I loved The One Hundred Nights of Hero and Passing Strange.

Favorite New (Or New-to-You) Author: Angela Slatter and her collection A Feast of Sorrows. This is how you write a collection of fairy tales!

Favorite Female/Nonbinary Character in a Book: Mary and Ada in The Case of the Missing Moonstone, because they complement each other beautifully and are so freaking awesome. Also known as the Most Delightful Duo.

Book that wasn’t what you expected: Food of the Gods was certainly the biggest surprise, as it’s the most absurd. I also had expectations going into Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Poisoned Apples, and Caraval, which none of them really met. I was also a bit surprised by The Geek Feminist Revolution, which I very much enjoyed, but seemed to be written primarily for a writerly audience that I am not part of.

Here’s the full list of what I read:

Guest of Honor Books: Required

Kameron Hurley, The Geek Feminist Revolution
Violet Kupersmith, The Frangipani Hotel (read in a previous Sirens year)
Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours (read in a previous Sirens year)
Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone (read previously)
(also Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad)

Hauntings Books: Pick Three

Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us
Kali Wallace, The Memory Trees
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

Revolutionaries Books: Pick Three

Lara Elena Donnelly, Amberlough
Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes
Christine Heppermann, Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

Lovers Books: Pick Three

Isabel Greenberg, The One Hundred Nights of Hero
Heidi Heilig, The Girl from Everywhere
Ellen Klages, Passing Strange

Women Who Work Magic Books: Pick Three

S. A. Chakraborty, City of Brass
Rin Chupeco, The Bone Witch
Mary Rickert, The Memory Garden

Middle Grade/Young Adult Books: Pick Five

Melissa Bashardoust, Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Lindsay Eagar, Hour of the Bees
Stephanie Garber, Caraval
Jordan Stratford & Kelly Murphy, The Case of the Missing Moonstone
Ibi Zoboi, American Street

Adult Books: Pick Five

Cassandra Khaw, Food of the Gods
Fonda Lee, Jade City
Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
Angela Slatter, A Feast of Sorrows
J. Y. Yang, The Black Tides of Heaven

Now please excuse me as I read all of the sequels and author favorites in the next month before the 2019 challenge comes out!


Faye Bi is a book-publishing professional based in New York City, and leads the Sirens communications team. She’s yet to read an immigrant story she hasn’t cried over, and is happiest planning nerdy parties, capping off a long run with brunch, and cycling along the East River.

 

Where Are They Now: 2017 Guests of Honor

This fall will mark our tenth year of Sirens. With our conference theme of reunion, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on past conferences and revisit some old friends. In this series, we check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. If you attended Sirens that year, please share with us your memories of 2017—last year!—in the comments or on social media, and take a stroll with us down memory lane!

In 2017, our theme was women who work magic, and our Guests of Honor were Zoraida Córdova, N. K. Jemisin, and Victoria Schwab.

Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida CórdovaBruja Born

Since Labyrinth Lost was released, Zoraida has published the second book in the Brooklyn Brujas series— Bruja Born in June 2018—which features Alex’s beautiful older sister, Lula. To celebrate her new book, Zoraida spoke at bookstores across the country with author Dhonielle Clayton and additional guests on the Belles and Brujas Tour throughout the month of June. The next book in the series, featuring Alex’s youngest sister Rose, will come out in 2019.

Zoraida’s short fiction has appeared in two recent anthologies: “You Owe Me a Ride” in the 2017 Star Wars collection From a Certain Point of View (alongside other past Sirens Guests of Honor Renée Ahdieh, Rae Carson, and Nnedi Okorafor); and “Divine Are the Stars” in Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft, which was edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood and was released in late August 2018.

In 2019, look out for the first of Zoraida’s new YA fantasy duology Hollow Crown, which is “loosely based on the Spain of the 15th century, reimagining the Inquisition as a battle between a cruel, autocratic state and rebel magicians.” The sequel will be published in 2020.

Where She Is Now: Hard at work on her next novel! Zoraida can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Upcoming Appearances: Zoraida is making a number of appearances across the country from now until the end of October, including Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. Check out the full list on Zoraida’s Twitter here. Don’t forget, Zoraida is also teaching at the Sirens Studio and will appear at Sirens this October 23–28, 2018!

 

N. K. Jemisin

N. K. JemisinHow Long 'til Black Future Month

N. K. (Nora) Jemisin made history back in August for winning the third consecutive Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Stone Sky, the last in her Broken Earth trilogy; the previous two books The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate also won Hugos. You can watch her Hugo acceptance speech here, and read a transcript here! The Stone Sky also won the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novel, as well as the 2018 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Last month, Entertainment Weekly dubbed Nora the “new queen of fantasy.” A special Broken Earth boxed set was released earlier this week.

A Fifth Season television series is also in development at TNT.

Also released this week was the collection, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, which Nora guest edited with series editor John Joseph Adams.

Nora’s short fiction collection How Long ’til Black Future Month? will come out in late November 2018, which will include new stories as well as her award-winning “The City Born Great.” In a press release, Nora shares, “I think my longtime readers will enjoy the chance to see the evolution of my style and attitude, and I hope new readers will like just seeing what kinds of worlds and weirdness I can come up with.”

Where She Is Now: After three years of reviewing science fiction and fantasy books in the New York Times column “Otherworldly,” Nora stepped down from her post in January 2018 though she occasionally still contributes long-form reviews. She is currently focusing on various book projects, including an upcoming contemporary fantasy. You can find her on Twitter.

Upcoming Appearances: Nora will be at New York Comic-Con on October 6–7, 2018 and the BRIC house in Brooklyn, NY on October 23, 2018.

 

Victoria Schwab

Victoria SchwabVengeful

Victoria has been busy writing, publishing, and promoting books! In August 2018, Victoria’s newest novel for young readers, The City of Ghosts, was published and became a New York Times bestseller. It features a girl who can see ghosts and is set in Edinburgh!

In September, we finally got a sequel to Victoria’s breakout adult novel Vicious in Vengeful, starring a new villain Marcella Riggins who is not above “collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other.”

For fans of Victoria’s recently concluded Shades of Magic trilogy, a super pretty boxed set will be available in mid-October, and includes some bonus content including a pull-out map. You might also want to clutch your fabulous coat close—Victoria will be helming a prequel comic book series titled Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince, with artist Andrea Olimpieri and colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini. The first issue comes out next week, with the second to follow in November!

Film buffs, you’re covered too—a Shades of Magic movie is in development with Sony.

Look for Victoria’s essay “Black Whole” in the Kelly Jensen-edited collection on mental health, (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health, available now.

Where She Is Now: On the road promoting Vengeful—check out her list of appearances here. Highlights include New York Comic-Con on October 4–6, 2018 and the Texas Book Festival on October 27–29, 2018! You can find Victoria on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.

 

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