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Archive for May 2015

Introducing Sirens Studio

A pre-conference option for readers, writers, scholars, and professionals

You’ve been asking for years, and now, for the first time ever, Sirens attendees can extend their time at the conference! Sirens Studio, our pre-conference option open to all attendees, will start Tuesday morning, and feature two days of workshop intensives, discussion, and networking opportunities, and flexible time for you to use however you wish. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, a scholar, or a professional, we hope you’ll consider joining us for our inaugural Sirens Studio.

Schedule

Tuesday, October 6 and Wednesday, October 7

Both Tuesday and Wednesday will begin with optional exercise or meditation time, followed by custom-made smoothies and a bit of down time. From 10:00 a.m. to noon each day, we’ll offer three concurrent workshop intensives led by our faculty: one for readers, one for writers, and one for professionals, though all Sirens Studio attendees are welcome to attend any—or none—of the options.

At noon, we’ll break for lunch (on your own, though you’re welcome to join members of our conference staff and Studio faculty, if you like). Beginning at 2:00 p.m., we’ll have flexible time; you’re welcome to join us in designated quiet or discussion rooms, spend time at the pool or in the spa, or find a solitary place to read, write, or work.

On Tuesday, at 6:00 p.m., you’re welcome to meet us for dinner (also on your own), and at 9:00 p.m., we’ll be showing a fantasy-themed film. On Wednesday, you’re welcome to have dinner on your own, or join us for our Sirens Supper (and Sirens Studio attendees will receive a $10 discount on the price of the Supper).

Whether you’re looking for a social experience or time on your own, we think you will be able to customize this schedule to fit your desires and goals.

How to Attend

Sirens Studio is available to Sirens attendees only, so in order to purchase a ticket, you must already be registered, or you must register and purchase your ticket at the same time.

Price: $50
This includes access to all workshop intensives, the quiet and discussion rooms, and morning smoothies.

Those registering for both Sirens Studio and the Sirens Supper will receive a $10 discount on the Sirens Supper, regardless of the order in which the tickets are purchased.

Registration Cap: 50 attendees
In order to keep the experience conversational and somewhat intimate, we are limiting the number of Sirens Studio tickets to 50.

Transportation: Sirens Shuttle
We are running a Sirens Shuttle option in the evening on Monday, October 5, to facilitate Sirens Studio attendees’ transportation to the Inverness Hotel.

Questions: Please write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Ready to purchase a ticket? You can register here or add a Studio ticket to your existing registration here. Those registering for both the Sirens Studio and the Sirens Supper will receive a $10 discount on the Sirens Supper.

Workshop Intensives
 
Tuesday

  • Reading Intensive
    Yes, That Kind of Girl: Inclusive and Intersectional Feminism in Fantasy

    Faye Bi
    Hidden behind the guise of “historical accuracy” or the blanket descriptor of “strong female protagonist” are the fierce women of fantasy who choose: to think, to speak, to act, all while negotiating several identities. Our emphasis: how fantasy novels imagine and depict the multitude of female identities not only in body, gender, race/ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation, but also behaviors that are—or are not—traditionally feminine. We will thus examine the idea of “femininity,” dissect female agency and strength, and explore examples of inclusive and intersectional feminism. Novels and short stories discussed will include works by current and past Sirens Guests of Honor, as well as works by other authors, such as Laura Lam, N. K. Jemisin and more.
     
  • Writing Intensive
    “It All Happened TO Her, Not BECAUSE of Her”: Writing Past Defaults

    Kate Elliott
    We all carry societal baggage about gender roles into our writing. That’s inevitable. In this workshop intensive, Kate will analyze how authors (including herself!) who are consciously attempting to expand and center roles for women may unconsciously undermine their female characters by sliding sideways into stereotyped personalities or behaviors and work. Often, male characters act within the plot while women characters—even as the central figures—may be given reactive roles. We’ll discuss typical fantasy gender defaults, ways in which authors who may seem to be subverting them aren’t always, and how to turn around these insidious messages to more fully write women characters as they really are, and have been, in the world.
     
  • Career Intensive
    Don’t Look at the Man Behind the Curtain: Innovation, Diversity and Feminism in the Television Industry

    Sruta Vootukuru
    As the television industry begins to consider the value of more diverse programming, the question of diversity behind the camera remains just as critical. Who sits in the boardrooms, conference rooms, and negotiation rooms of America’s television companies? Who makes the decisions, not only about which shows to broadcast, but about how television is packaged, distributed, and sold to consumers? What sort of voice do women have in this process—and how can they amplify their voice to both initiate and influence the ever-accelerating evolution of how television is made available to, and consumed by, the American public.
     

Wednesday

  • Reading Intensive
    Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Deconstructing Authorial Unconscious Bias

    Amy Tenbrink
    We’ve come a long way, baby. Our heroines no longer sit in castles, waiting for mustachioed men in overalls to rescue them from the big bad. Our girls wield swords, cast spells, train dragons, and rule the world. And yet, sometimes it seems that we’ve merely traded one stereotype for others: a wilting princess in pink for a strong girl who isn’t so strong that she’s intimidating. A dethroned queen who never makes a decision. A mother who is erased from the story as soon as she gives birth. A wise woman there only to provide inscrutable advice. The nonexistent female friend. Our heroines are still so often bound, not by Bowser, but by their creators. Building on Kate Elliott’s Tuesday writing intensive (though that is definitely not a prerequisite for this reading intensive), as readers, we’ll deconstruct and debate authorial microaggressions, microerasures, and unconscious bias against female characters.
     
  • Writing Intensive
    Writing Workshop: Characterization and Worldbuilding

    Yoon Ha Lee and Shveta Thakrar
    Yoon and Shveta will co-present a workshop intensive on the art of the speculative short story. Using three example pieces distributed to participants prior to the workshop, Yoon and Shveta will examine two storytelling fundamentals—worldbuilding and character—and discuss how they work together to construct a narrative. They will then walk the class through exercises designed to help participants begin crafting their own worlds and characters, so that each participant leaves with a foundation for a story.
     
  • Career Intensive
    Who’s There: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Highs and Lows of the Modern Workplace

    Miriam Weinberg
    Miriam will present a comprehensive look at thriving in modern-day workplaces, including casting her gimlet eye on how to best present oneself for professional success. Topics addressed will include real-life experience, tales from the publishing trenches, advice on networking, social media exposition, and attempts at a work/life balance. Participants should plan to discuss active communication strategies, presenting in professional spheres, practicing flexibility in networking using both traditional and non-traditional methods, and feminism galore.

Faculty

Faye Bi graduated with an honors degree in anthropology from Columbia University in 2010 and works as a book publicist at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and SAGA Press in New York. 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.

Kate Elliott writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, all with a romantic edge. Kate’s most recent work, the Spiritwalker trilogy (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel), is an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency adventure fantasy with airships, sharks, and lawyer dinosaurs. Kate completed the Crossroads trilogy (Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, Traitors’ Gate), which is an “HBO-style” fantasy with a focus on character and landscape, and an epic plot. Kate also wrote the seven-volume epic fantasy series Crown of Stars, set in an alternate European landscape where magic has been (literally) woven through the land. The first volume, King’s Dragon, was a Nebula Award finalist in 1998. Set in a speculative future, the Novels of the Jaran follow the nomadic people known as the jaran after their first contact with the technologically more advanced society of Earth. Kate co-wrote the bestselling fantasy novel The Golden Key with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson, a 1997 World Fantasy Award finalist. The Very Best of Kate Elliott, a short story collection, was released by Tachyon Publications in February 2015. Forthcoming for Kate are Court of Fives, a YA fantasy, which will be released by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in August 2015, and Black Wolves, volume one of a new epic fantasy series, which will be released from Orbit Books in fall 2015.

Yoon Ha Lee is a Korean-American science fiction and fantasy writer who majored in math and finds it a source of continual delight that math can be mined for story ideas. Yoon’s fiction has appeared in publications such as F&SF, Tor.com, and Clarkesworld, as well as several year’s-best anthologies, and has ranged from military science fiction to fairy tales. Yoon’s work includes 2010 WSFA Small Press Award finalist “The Pirate Captain’s Daughter,” Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nominees “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” in 2011 and “Ghostweight” in 2012, and 2014 World Fantasy Award finalist “Effigy Nights.” Conservation of Shadows, a debut collection of short fiction, integrates tropes of science fiction with elements of myth and is a finalist for the William L. Crawford Award. Yoon graduated from Cornell University, majoring in mathematics, and earned a master’s degree in secondary math education at Stanford University.

By day, Amy Tenbrink dons her supergirl suit and practices transactional and intellectual property law for an entertainment company. By night, she dons her supergirl cape and plans literary conferences, runs marathons, and reads a hundred books a year. She’s been an active member of fandom for over ten years and a voracious fantasy reader since she first picked up Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. She likes nothing quite so much as monster girls and Weasleys.

Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, social justice activist, and part-time nagini. She draws on her heritage, her experience growing up with two cultures, and her love of myth to spin stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames. When not hard at work on her second novel, a young adult fantasy about stars, Shveta makes things out of glitter and paper and felt, devours books, daydreams, draws, bakes sweet treats, travels, and occasionally even practices her harp.

Sruta Vootukuru serves as Vice President, Business Development and Operations, for Sling TV, DISH Network’s new, Internet-delivered television product. Sruta currently leads customer service, partner relationships, and product initiatives for Sling TV, and previously managed DISH Network’s content acquisition deals for both local stations and international channels. Prior to joining DISH Network, Sruta held positions in operations, strategy, marketing, and business development in several industries, including CPG, retail, financial services, biomedical, and medical devices. Born and raised in India, she holds a biomedical and electrical engineering degree from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Miriam Weinberg is an editor at Tor/Tor Teen. While she has worked with many authors in her time at Tor, her current list includes authors such as V. E. Schwab and Marie Brennan. Miriam can be found on the internet as @MiriamAnneW, where she is probably tweeting cute gifs, kpop songs, or book recommendations. As a true Gryffinclaw, she has stores of esoteric book knowledge and very loud opinions.
 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 7 (May 2015)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING DEADLINE: MAY 15
Visit the programming section of the Sirens website.

The deadline to submit programming proposals to Sirens is May 15, 2015. That means you have less than two weeks to put together your proposal, to find co-presenters, and to offer your idea to the vetting board. Never fear, however: at the time of submission, you need only have a short summary for the program book and a short abstract (or lesson plan, or set of discussion questions) ready for review. You’ll still have until October to prepare! Not sure what to present? Here are a few ideas we’ve shared on Twitter for #SirensBrainstormMonday or during chats:

  • Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby: The Importance of Female Desire in Young Adult Fantasy Literature
     
  • Chat brainstorming: Crossovers between fantasy and other genres (reader expectations, clashing writing tropes, when they work really well).
     
  • Chat brainstorming: The sometimes success of non-traditional structures (shifting PoVs, unreliable narrators, non-linear storytelling).
     
  • Chat brainstorming: Older heroines who have some wisdom and leadership skills, but are still challenged in a book (e.g., Broken Monsters).
     
  • Bring It On: Are Girls More Fearless in Fantasy Literature?
     
  • Forgiveness and Revenge in Fantasy
     
  • Murder, Mistake, Rebellion, Revolution: Our Changeable Thresholds of Female Villainy in Fantasy Literature
     
  • Homicidal Asylum Prisoner to Practically Perfect Authorial Insert: The Many, Many Faces of Alice of Wonderland
     
  • “How about something with women-led societies and matriarchal lines: Sorrow’s Knot, The Demon King, Queen of the Tearling?”
     
  • “40+-year-old women in fantasy lit: Paladin of Souls, A Crown for Cold Silver, Granny Weatherwax…”
     
  • Handbook of Revolution: Deploying Your Dragons, Mages, Spies and Wannabe Queens
     

These folks are or were seeking presentations or collaborators. Please contact them directly; if you don’t use Twitter, and you email us ASAP at (programming at sirensconference.org), we’ll forward your contact information to them, if we can.

  • Bethany Powell/ @oh_gingersnap / Panel “Women in War: trauma & healing in SFF” looking for panelists! Would love counseling/medicine/healer perspectives. But: I would also just love perspectives of common sense and mature ladies! Anyone who’d like to chat these topics.
     
  • @morinotsuma is looking for co-panelists to discuss IRL heroines as inspiration for fantasy novels. Interested?
     
  • Panel on religion in fantasy seeks Buddhist and Muslim voices. If you’re attending #Sirens15 and want to join, let @sesmithwrites know!
     
  • Catherine Lundoff @clundoff has raised a hand for being part of programming—check out her Twitter for more information and interests.
     

And we have some facts, frequently asked questions, examples, and inspiration for you!

Staff talks about presenting different kinds of programming:

Attendees talk about programming:

 

HELP US FUND SIRENS SCHOLARSHIPS

Can you help us reach our goal of including more voices in Sirens?
 
Sirens Conference needs your help to include more voices in our community!

This year, we hope to offer more scholarships than ever before. You can donate any amount, and if you do—no matter the amount—we will feature you, under your chosen name (or anonymous), on our website and in our program book. More importantly, both 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 diversity and inclusiveness of our community.

We’ve already funded a third of our scholarships—the first three will benefit Con or Bust. Can you help us meet our goal of funding a total of nine scholarships? You can donate any amount, and any amount is much appreciated.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

SnowLikeAshes

Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. May’s book is Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. Join the discussion here on Goodreads.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

Never-before-seen passage cut from an early draft of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Marvel hires a pair of women to write Captain Marvel.

Fairy tales that are backed by science!

Exploring the appeal of fantasy romance.

Five fantasy epics that would make for better TV than Game of Thrones, including Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals.

Four female Muslim superheroes countering stereotypes.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black is the 2015 Indies Choice Book Award Young Adult Book of the Year.

Another day, another erasure of women in the world of books.

Me and Science Fiction: What Are We, Chopped Liver?

April was Women in SF&F Month on Fantasy Café.

One Artist Rips Open Grimm’s Fairy Tales to Reveal Their Gruesome, Feminist Roots (note: graphic imagery that may be disturbing or NSFW).

DC and Mattel team up to create superhero action figures for girls.

Aniko Kolesnikova’s 3-D fantasy book covers.

A peek at how maps get made for fantasy books.

New audio adaptation of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin on BBC Radio 4.

2014 Tiptree Award Winners.

2014 Aurealis Awards.

Magical 3-D art made from abandoned books.

 

Recent Releases:
PLEASE NOTE: We will soon be transitioning to reporting on books that are out in the previous month, so we’ll be skipping new books in the June newsletter. In July, we’ll bring you a list of June’s releases. As always, we’re happy to hear about new releases—please send them to (help at sirensconference.org)!

2015MayMiniCollage-12015MayMiniCollage-22015MayMiniCollage-32015MayMiniCollage-42015MayMiniCollage-5

Click each image for a closer look at the covers.

From April:
Back, Belly, and Side: True Lies and False Tales, Celeste Rita Baker
Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1), Jennifer Estep
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme #1), Megan Morrison
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why, G. Willow Wilson, ill. Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona
Once Upon a Time: Out of the Past, Kalinda Vazquez, ill. Corinna Bechko, Pascal Campion, Betsy Peterschmidt, Vanesa Del Rey, and Janet Lee
SuperMutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki

May 1:
Lois Lane: Fallout, Gwenda Bond
Mermaids and Other Mysteries of the Deep, ed. Paula Guran
Song for a Scarlet Runner, Julie Hunt

May 5:
Alien Separation, Gini Koch
Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace
Blood Sisters: Vampire Stories by Women, ed. Paula Guran
The Book of Phoenix, Nnedi Okorafor
Cat’s Lair, Christine Feehan
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
Crimson Bound, Rosamund Hodge
Day Shift, Charlaine Harris
Grave Phantoms, Jenn Bennett
The Heir, Kiera Cass
Ice Kissed, Amanda Hocking
Isle of the Lost, Melissa de la Cruz
Oracle, Michelle West
The Perilous Princess Plot (Buckle and Squash #1), Sarah Courtauld
Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly
The Waterborne Blade, Susan Murray
Witches With the Enemy, Barb Hendee

May 7:
City of Fae, Pippa DaCosta
Marked, Sue Tingey

May 8:
Avalon Rising, Kathryn Rose

May 12:
5 To 1, Holly Bodger
Bayou Magic, Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Big Fix: A Novel, Linda Grimes
Born of Defiance (The League #8), Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Boys of Fire and Ash, Meaghan McIsaac
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge
Defiant, Karina Sumner-Smith
Dreams of Shreds and Tatters, Amanda Downum
End of Days, Susan Ee
Love Is Red, Sophie Jaff
Points of Departure: Liavek Stories, Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean
The Telling Stone (Time Out of Time #2), Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Todas las Hadas del Reino, Laura Gallego García
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, Kelly Jones
The Wrath and the Dawn, Renée Ahdieh

May 19:
Chantress Fury, Amy Butler Greenfield
Dangerous Deception, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Eighth Grave After Dark, Darynda Jones
The Gracekeepers, Kirsty Logan
The Hanged Man, P. N. Elrod
Illusionarium, Heather Dixon
Lion Heart, A. C. Gaughen
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
Off the Page, Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Thor’s Serpents, K. L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr
Uprooted, Naomi Novik
Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art, edited by Cathy Fenner

May 26:
The Awesome, Eva Darrows
Beauty (Tales from the Kingdoms #3), Sarah Pinborough
Charmed, Michelle Krys
The Death Code, Lindsay Cummings
The Eternal City, Paula Morris
I Am Princess X, Cherie Priest
The Talon of the Hawk (The Twelve Kingdoms #3), Jeffe Kennedy

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
We’d love a few more volunteers to supply us with short reviews of works they have read and loved. If you think you could contribute a book review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, we would love to have your recommendation for the Sirens newsletter.

Review squad volunteering is quite flexible; we simply ask that you share information about books you’ve enjoyed. (We are, of course, especially interested in fantasy books by and about women, and we hope you’ll consider interesting, diverse selections.) You can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, and on a schedule that works for you. Please visit the volunteer system and, when we ask you what position you’re interested in, type in “Book Reviewer.”

 

TheWitchofPaintedSorrowsThe Witch of Painted Sorrows
M. J. Rose

There are no words for how much I loved this book.

The Witch of Painted Sorrows is the tale of a young American woman who flees to her grandmother’s mansion in Paris to get away from her tyrant husband. When she gets there, however, Sandrine finds more than she bargained for in the form of La Lune, a woman of family lore who may still be haunting the house. Through her influence, Sandrine learns to paint, exert her own willfulness, and perhaps most shockingly (to herself at least) embrace her sexuality and sensuality.

This book was incredibly atmospheric evoking the glamour and mystery of La Belle Epoch Paris, nearly gothic in places—it gave me shivers! The house and city become characters as much as the people in the book.

Though Sandrine isn’t much developed as a character before her first encounter with La Lune, the changes wrought in her serve to show the reader what she must have been like before. (And I have to say, go La Lune! A woman before her time.) I wish Julien had been a little more developed, but he still served as the perfect pairing of the empowered Sandrine, and foil to her husband. Sandrine’s courtesan grandmother may have been the most developed of all the characters. Watching what happens to her was heartbreaking.

And the sex! *fans self* This is not erotica by any means, but in the hands of a skilled author like M. J. Rose, the sex scenes are amazing. Give me this over 50 Shades any day.

As a fan of all things mystical and occult, this book was right up my alley. I loved the reference to the fire opals and rubies (I hope she does more with the stones’ symbolism in later books) and the depiction of spiritualism and the occult rites toward the end was spot on from research I’ve done. Plus, the idea of a ghost possibly possessing someone always lends an air of the uncanny.

I have to say I’m wondering what she’s going to do with the rest of the series. The ending was well tied up, save for one shocker that made me sit back and say, “Okay, bring on book 2! ” – Nicole Evelina


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

 

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