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Books and Breakfast: July Spotlight

Sirens veterans know that each year, we select a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our annual theme—and we invite attendees to bring their breakfast on Friday and Saturday mornings during Sirens to discuss them. Last month, we announced our 2017 Books and Breakfast books on women who work magic, and you can check them all here.

Every month, we’ll be highlighting a few titles chosen, in the hopes that you pick up these great books in time for Books and Breakfast! For July, our spotlight is on Charlie Jane Anders’s All the Birds in the Sky, Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch, and Laura Anne Gilman’s Silver on the Road. Questions or thoughts? Comment below or sound off on Twitter at @sirens_con and the hashtag #Sirens17.

 

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the SKy

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca of San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together—to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

All the Birds in the Sky asks hard questions: about magic and morality, about technology and the ethical use thereof, about people and life. Its near-future setting, and its almost magic vs. technology structure, allows Anders to explore these questions and more about our societal mores and ambitions. Notably, even as the book careens toward the end of the world as we know it, humanity remains center stage.

 

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

If you like ambitious girls, this one’s for you. Because while Tea starts the novel quite young and understandably afraid, by the end of the novel, she’s a woman who makes choices—and you’ll be waiting breathlessly to see what she does in the second installment. Further, the novel’s bifurcated timeline structure allows the reader to compare Tea in her childhood with Tea today: a luxury for readers who love character-driven novels.

 

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

Silver on the Road

A heroic fantasy about a young woman who is trained in the art of the sinister hand of magic, but at what price?

On her sixteenth birthday, Isobel makes the choice to work for the Devil in his territory west of the Mississippi. But this is not the devil you think you know. This is a being who deals fairly with immense—but not unlimited—power, who offers opportunities to people who want to make a deal, and makes sure they always get what they deserve. But his land is a wild west that needs a human touch, and that’s where Izzy comes in. Inadvertently trained by him to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel the circuitous road through the territory. As we all know, where there is magic there is power and chaos…and death.

Silver on the Road is a slow burn of a book. Izzy’s choice to become the Devil’s Left Hand happens quickly at the beginning, and you spend the rest of the book traveling the Wild West with her as she learns what it really means to have made a deal with the Devil. But it doesn’t mean what you expect: There’s both good and bad for Izzy, great power and, yes, great responsibility, and all of it much more subtly wielded than your usual deal-with-the-devil fare.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 9, Issue 7 (June 2017)

In this issue:

 

2017 MILESTONES SO FAR

Last week, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink wrote about Sirens’s unprecedented growth, elaborated on this year’s conference theme of women who work magic, and waxed poetic on our nine-years-in-the-making community: “One that’s becoming increasingly brilliant, increasingly inclusive, increasingly confident, increasingly vocal. One that believes in itself and each of its parts. A once-a-year respite, where you can repair your armor, replenish your magic, and remember how truly remarkable the women of fantasy literature—from queens to readers—are.” Read the full post here.

 

INCLUSIVITY AT SIRENS

This month, we also kicked off an important series of posts addressing diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality at Sirens in order to highlight voices that are both vital to our community and are too often unheard. In our first post, Faye Bi shares her Sirens experience and offers some food for thought for new and returning attendees: “[Sirens] doesn’t feel like battle, when so much of my daily life does. That’s a feeling to ponder, but also one to protect.” Read the rest of her post here.

 

REGISTRATION UPDATE

At this point in time, Sirens is sold out for 2017.

To individuals who have submitted programming proposals, a reminder that you have until July 9, 2017, to register and be paid in full for this year’s conference, after which the registration that we are holding for you will be made available to the public.

We’ll continue to post updates on registration availability on this blog, on our Twitter, and on our Facebook page. If you are still seeking a registration, we recommend that you check back on July 10. Please also watch our Twitter for announcements of any individuals seeking to sell their registrations.

 

PROGRAMMING

After the presenter registration deadline of July 9, we’ll be revealing this year’s presentations in small batches on this blog and on the Accepted Programming page! If you proposed programming and missed the email with the result of your proposal, please email (programming at sirensconference.org) right away. Thank you again to everyone who proposed programming this year!

 

HOTEL

This year, we have already had to ask the Hotel Talisa to make additional rooms available at the discounted Sirens rate twice! We are pleased to report that, as of last Monday, there are again discounted rooms in our block—but we strongly recommend that you book yours as soon as possible. You can find reservations information here.

 

ATTENDING AUTHORS

If you are a published author attending Sirens this year, let us know! We’d like to make sure we have your books available in our bookstore—and if you’d like, a place for you in our author signings. Please email Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

BOOKSTORE DONATIONS

Speaking of our bookstore, a few years ago, we began operating our own bookstore as a fundraiser for Sirens. This gives us the opportunity, in many ways in defiance of the commercial market, to stock our bookstore exclusively with fantasy books written by, or featuring, amazing women.

In many ways, our bookstore operates like any other bookstore: we acquire new books for sale just like anyone else. But in two ways, our bookstore is different. First, the Sirens community frequently donates new books, just to make sure that the bookstore includes them in its inventory; sometimes these attendees work for publishers or are donating books that they’ve written, but often, these attendees simply want to help make our bookstore as amazing as possible. Second, we have a used section of our bookstore where we offer gently used fantasy books for $5 each. That section of our bookstore is stocked entirely through donations.

If you would like to donate books to our bookstore, please send your books to the following address, to arrive no later than August 1, 2017. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST

Sirens veterans know that we select a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invite attendees to bring their breakfast on Friday and Saturday mornings of the conference to discuss. Here are this year’s selections:

Friday, October 27

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
This Strange Way of Dying by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Saturday, October 28

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

For 2017, we’re spotlighting three books per month, so you can plan your reading and join us! Check out our post on The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Slice of Cherry, and The Land of Love and Dreaming here.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

Sister Mine

For June, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink read Nalo Hopkinson’s Sister Mine. Read her review, coming out later this week, over on the blog and on Goodreads.

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

This month, Faye read Emily Croy Barker’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic in pursuit of the 2017 Reading Challenge, which she recommends for readers who “like reluctant heroines…[and] can stomach unlikable protagonists.” Check out her review on the blog and on Goodreads.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…


Interesting Links

 


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

 

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Books and Breakfast: June Spotlight

Each year, we select a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our annual theme—and we invite attendees to bring their breakfast on Friday and Saturday mornings during Sirens to discuss them. Over the years, this program has highlighted the depth and breadth of each year’s theme and given early risers both company and book talk.

The Sirens theme for 2017 is women who work magic. We’re delighted to announce our book selections early so that participants interested in Books and Breakfast can read them in time for this year’s conference. We’ll also be featuring three Books and Breakfast titles per month to get these books on your radar!

 
2017 BOOKS AND BREAKFAST SELECTIONS

Friday, October 27

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
This Strange Way of Dying by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Saturday, October 28

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

 
JUNE SPOTLIGHT

This month we’re spotlighting Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Dia Reeves’s Slice of Cherry, and Tiphanie Yanique’s The Land of Love and Drowning. Do you plan on picking these up soon? Definitely let us know by tweeting at @sirens_con and/or using the hashtag #Sirens17!

 
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

GirlWhodranktheMoon

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest, hoping this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch, Xan, is kind, rescuing the abandoned children and delivering them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

But when Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic, she decides to raise her as her own. Xan keeps the child—whom she calls Luna—safe by locking her magic deep inside her until her thirteenth birthday. But when a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing Xan just as Luna starts coming into her powers, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is compulsively readable: it both hearkens back to well-known fairy tales and presents something new, feminist, and inclusive. It’s a story about growing up and growing older and making hard choices and choosing whom to become. And besides Xan and Luna, the book features a friendly swamp monster, a very tiny dragon, a fearless girl, a boy with a conscience, a woman with a tiger’s heart, and a story told all wrong.

 
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

SliceofCherry

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities.

If you’ve ever read Bleeding Violet, you know about Portero; if you haven’t, well, it’s more of less Buffy’s Hellmouth times a hundred. The people of Portero are tough to figure out—and surprisingly, Kit and Fancy are just as tough to crack as Bleeding Violet’s unreliable narrator, Hanna. While Hanna’s story was so much about her and her personal relationships, Slice of Cherry asks larger questions about power, vigilante justice, and how to figure out when you’ve gone too far.

 
The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

LandofLoveandDrowning

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut.

Land of Love and Drowning is one of those books in which you can lose yourself on a quiet afternoon. It’s complicated and complex, with magic that turns up in the strangest of places. It’s reminiscent of both Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban and Daína Chaviano’s The Island of Eternal Love, not only for its multi-generational timeline and quiet magic often worked by women, but for its close look at the culture, traditions, and legends of an island in the Caribbean.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 8, Issue 6 (September 2016)

In this issue:

 

SCHEDULE
Before arriving in Denver, you might want to review the accepted programming and schedule for Sirens—and daydream about owning a Time-Turner or consider volunteering (see below). You might also want to review the Books and Breakfast list and pick something to chat about before the day’s programming starts. Or perhaps you’d like to squeeze in a few more books from this year’s themed reading list; after all, you have a couple more weeks!

 

UPCOMING INSTRUCTION EMAILS
If you’ve registered for Sirens, please keep an eye on your inbox during the weeks leading up to Sirens. We’ll be sending you emails about meeting the Sirens Shuttle, checking in for the Sirens Studio, finding the Sirens Supper, and claiming your Sirens registration. If you are a presenter, please keep an eye out for email communications from the programming team as well.

Also, if you’re riding the Sirens Shuttle and haven’t provided your flight information, please check your email for a note from the help desk or write to (help at sirensconference.org). We’ll track your progress toward Sirens and make sure that you haven’t run into any delays along the way!

 

VOLUNTEERING
We’d love your help at Sirens! Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities, but most volunteer shifts are during programming and allow you to attend presentations. See the volunteers page on our website for more details. If you’re a returning volunteer, you don’t need to fill out the form—just follow the directions in the email sent through the Google Group.

We could really use your help filling a few remaining shifts. If you’re planning to stick to a room for the whole morning or afternoon anyway, and don’t mind flagging down help if any problems arise, we’d be thrilled to have you volunteer for a few hours, and so would the presenters! Thanks in advance for your help.

 

GUEST OF HONOR INTERVIEW
We’re interviewing our Sirens 2016 Guests of Honor about their inspirations, influences, and craft, to the role of women in fantasy literature as befits our 2016 focus on lovers and the role of love, intimacy, and sex. We can’t wait for you to meet them this October! Here’s the last of our interviews.

From our interview with Laurie J. Marks on the philosophy of aspects of Shaftal that powers the plot of her Elemental Logic series: “[I]t seems feminist to emphasize the importance of an entire community in accomplishing anything worth doing.”
 
 
 
 
 

You may find our interviews with our other 2016 Guests of Honor, Kiini Ibura Salaam and Renée Ahdieh, here and here.

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
Each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. For 2016, we’ve kicked Books and Breakfast off early—so all of you have time to choose a couple books and read! This year, we’ve also launched a program to get these books into your hands prior to Sirens.

For extra motivation, we’re giving away copies of each Books and Breakfast book—two each month! Congratulations to @StellaLuna617 on Twitter for winning August’s Giveaway. Check out how you can win Pantomime and Like Water for Chocolate in our post here.

 

BOOKSTORE
Thank you to everyone who has donated books! We really appreciate your support for our mission, and we hope you’ll stop by during Sirens to browse and maybe find a new (or new-to-you) book to add to your collection. If you’re planning to shop, we’ll have books by the guests of honor, from the Books and Breakfast list, and by attending authors, as well as a selection of other really good reads.

 

AUCTION
Do you have an item to donate for this year’s auction? Please let us know by the end of the day on Thursday, October 20, so that we can get your donation onto the auction list. All sorts of items are welcome! If you’d like to donate an item or you have questions, please email Amy Tenbrink at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org). She’d love to hear what you’re planning and address any concerns you might have. Thank you in advance for your support!

 

CONTACTING US DURING SIRENS
Many of our staff will be traveling to Denver as early as Friday, October 14, to prepare for Sirens. While we are in transit and when we’re on site unpacking and setting things up for the conference, we will not be able to monitor our emails as closely as we do at other times. If you have an urgent inquiry during this time, please send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

During the conference, the best way to contact us is in person! While we do check our email, we’re only able to do so sporadically. If you have any questions or would simply like to chat, please stop by our information desk in the Inverness’s Summit D starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 20.

 

TWITTER SCHEDULE
Beginning on Tuesday, October 18, we will be posting the Sirens Studio and conference schedule on our Twitter. If you prefer not to receive these reminders, you may want to mute or unfollow @sirens_con until Monday, October 24. (The schedule will not be posted on Facebook, though a few highlights might be.)

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

Assassin's Gambit

Last month, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink read Amy Raby’s Assassin’s Gambit, full of fantasy romance, rebel assassins, and sex: “Assassin’s Gambit has solid fantasy world-building, pretty funny dialogue, and unlike a lot of fantasy heroines, a super-competent heroine who saves the world.” Check out her review on the blog and Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Shades of Milk and Honey

Are you close to finishing the 2016 Sirens Reading Challenge? Faye is! Last month she read Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey, which she found full of Jane Austen analogues and “familiar plot twists like secret arrangements, duels and carriage chases” but she was impressed by the masterful weaving of magic, or “glamour” into the worldbuilding. Check out her review on the blog and Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

 


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

 

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Books and Breakfast: September Giveaway

As Sirens veterans know, each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. Over the years, this program has highlighted the depth and breadth of each year’s theme and given early risers both company and book talk!

For 2016, we’ve kicked Books and Breakfast off early—so all of you have time to choose a couple books and read! This year, we’ve also launched a giveaway program to get these books into your hands prior to Sirens.

 

SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY

For September, we’ll be giving away, to one lucky winner, two Books and Breakfast selections: Pantomime and Like Water for Chocolate. You can read more about the books below, but here are the rules:

To enter, you must tell us of your favorite female character in fantasy literature. All entries must be submitted by September 30, 2016, either by Tweeting them to @sirens_con or by emailing them to (help at sirensconference.org). Each individual may enter only once and you must currently reside in the United States in order to win. By entering, you grant Sirens the right to use your entry and to name you (by name or Twitter alias) in connection with that entry. The winner must provide their address to Sirens in order to receive the prize. This offer void where prohibited.

 

Pantomime

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Pantomime kicks off a remarkable series about an intersex protagonist, set somewhere between the world of the pampered and over-privileged and the gritty backdrop of a traveling circus. More important than the setting, and the uncertain magic that builds the fantasy thread, is the main character’s questioning—not only of who they are, but who they are going to become, and how they will become.

When Iphigenia—Gene—realizes that her social and class circumstances are forcing her into very strict rules of behavior (and gender expression), as well as continued medical examinations and secrets, she leaves home, joining the circus as Micah. While the secrets don’t exactly end, Micah can finally begin to explore what it means to be Micah, and to explore loving in Micah’s body, and to explore the magic that Micah can make. This leads into future books, so note that this is only the beginning of a series.

 

Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate is a worldwide bestseller, a work that many in the US know only in translation, and has been adapted for film. It’s the sort of book that we include in Books and Breakfast because it has fantastical elements—and because we are always discussing and debating whether we can include magical realism as a part of the fantasy family (even if only as a beloved cousin).

Tita lives in Mexico of more than a hundred years ago, and she can’t marry; she’ll have to devote her life to caring for her mother. However, she’s in love with Pedro, her sister’s husband…. Her tumultuous feelings are expressed through the magic of food. Forbidden romance, recipes, family relationships, sex, and tradition all play a part.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 8, Issue 5 (August 2016)

In this issue:

 

INVERNESS HOTEL
In 2016, Sirens’s hotel is again the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center, a Destination Hotels resort in south Denver. Everything Sirens will take place at the Inverness, from our pre-conference Sirens Studio and Sirens Supper to our programming, to our Ball of Enchantment, and to our Sunday breakfast and auction. For Sirens, the Inverness is where you want to be.

We strongly recommend making your reservations at the Inverness Hotel as soon as possible, both so that you have the best shot at reserving a room in our block and so, if you miss our block, you’ll have the best chance to get a room off the waitlist. If you are running into issues with availability making reservations online, please call the hotel at (303) 799-5800, and if you still have trouble making a reservation, please email us at (help at sirensconference.org). Check out our latest hotel post for pictures, amenities, discounted rate information, and tips on finding a roommate.

 

TICKETS
Tickets for the Sirens Shuttle and Sirens Studio are still available. The Sirens Shuttle offers discounted group transportation to and from Denver International Airport, for you and any friends or family who’d like a ride too. The Sirens Studio, features two days of workshop intensives (for readers, writers, and professionals), discussion, networking opportunities, and flexible time for you to use however you wish. If you’d like to join us for some—or all—of these, tickers can be added to a registration until registration closes on September 17. Tickets for these events are unlikely to be available at the door.

 

BRING A FRIEND!
If you’ve already registered for Sirens, check your inboxes! Last week, we sent a promotional code to all registered attendees that entitles the user to a $10 discount. It can be used only once, and your friend needs to register between now and September 17, 2016. We can’t wait to meet them!

 

SUPPORT SIRENS
At Sirens, we’re committed to keeping the cost of attendance as low as possible for all attendees. Because of that commitment, we run an unusual budget structure: the costs of presenting Sirens far exceed our registration revenue. Each year, exceptionally kind individuals, many of them on our staff, cover approximately half that gap through thousands of dollars in donations, necessary to make a space that discusses and celebrates the remarkable women of fantasy literature real.

And you can help. Please click the links for more information:

Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting organization behind Sirens, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Therefore, all donations to Sirens are eligible for tax deduction in accordance with U.S. law.

 

ATTENDING AUTHORS
If you are a published author attending Sirens, please let us know. We’d like to make sure we have your books available in our bookstore—and if you’d like, a place for you in our author signing time. Please send an email to Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

GUEST OF HONOR INTERVIEWS
We’re interviewing our Sirens 2016 Guests of Honor about their inspirations, influences, and craft, to the role of women in fantasy literature as befits our 2016 focus on lovers and the role of love, intimacy, and sex. We can’t wait for you to meet them this October!

From our interview with Kiini Ibura Salaam on what makes a Kiini heroine: “I love people who live boldly. I think we all have parts of us that want to be free. Those are the characters that fascinate me most as well—characters who have impact, who have strong identities, who are pushing against the forces that would control them.”
 
 
 
 

From our interview with Renée Ahdieh on heroes and villains in her novels: “I tend to enjoy writing in spaces of moral grey. The world in which we live is really not as black and white as we’d like to believe it to be… Every choice—every experience—has risk and reward. And those risks/rewards are never as clear-cut as we wish they were.”

 
 
 

Our interview with our third 2016 Guest of Honor, Laurie J. Marks is coming next month, so stay tuned!

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
Each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. For 2016, we’ve kicked Books and Breakfast off early—so all of you have time to choose a couple books and read! This year, we’ve also launched a program to get these books into your hands prior to Sirens.

For extra motivation, we’re giving away copies of each Books and Breakfast book—two each month! Congratulations to @strixbrevis on Twitter for winning July’s Giveaway. Check out how you can win Joplin’s Ghost and There Once Lived a Girl… in our post here.

 

AMY’s BOOK CLUB

Star-Touched Queen

Sirens co-founder Hallie Tibbetts subs for Amy this month in Amy’s Book Club! Check out her review of Roshani Chokshi's The Star-Touched Queen, on the blog and Goodreads, which she found to be a “lyrical story that incorporates Hindu myth into a romantic, lush read.”

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

BoySnowBird

Read along with Faye as she completes the 2016 Sirens Reading Challenge! This month she read Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, which she loved for how it delved into the implications of racial passing if not for gender. Check out her review on the blog and Goodreads.

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD

Sorcerer to the Crown

Kayla Shifrin discusses and critiques revolution, political symbols and YA heroines in Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince. Check out her full review over on the blog.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

 


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

 

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Books and Breakfast: August Giveaway

As Sirens veterans know, each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. Over the years, this program has highlighted the depth and breadth of each year’s theme and given early risers both company and book talk!

For 2016, we’ve kicked Books and Breakfast off early—so all of you have time to choose a couple books and read! This year, we’ve also launched a giveaway program to get these books into your hands prior to Sirens.

 

AUGUST GIVEAWAY

For August, we’ll be giving away, to one lucky winner, two Books and Breakfast selections: Joplin’s Ghost and There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories. You can read more about the books below, but here are the rules:

To enter, you must tell us a fantasy book, written by a woman or genderqueer author, that you think everyone should read. All entries must be submitted by August 31, 2016, either by Tweeting them to @sirens_con or by emailing them to (help at sirensconference.org). Each individual may enter only once and you must currently reside in the United States in order to win. By entering, you grant Sirens the right to use your entry and to name you (by name or Twitter alias) in connection with that entry. The winner must provide their address to Sirens in order to receive the prize. This offer void where prohibited.

 

Joplin's Ghost

Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due

Joplin’s Ghost is, more than anything, a genre-busting, ambitious work of tremendous scope. It’s part historical re-creation, part contemporary bildungsroman, part complex ghost story, and part heated erotica. And in a year when Sirens is going to talk about lovers, an affirmation that, yes, sexual encounters with the ghost of Scott Joplin definitely fit the bill.

When she was ten, Phoenix Smalls was nearly killed in a freak encounter with a haunted piano. Shortly thereafter, her father found her in the middle of the night, playing ragtime melodies on the piano with a skill years beyond her training. Now in her early twenties, Phoenix is an up-and-coming R&B singer, one who incorporates ragtime syncopation into her work in a way heretofore unknown in the world. As Phoenix’s story weaves around Joplin’s—both his early 1900s history and his contemporary, erotic ghostly return—Joplin’s Ghost turns into a coming-of-age tale featuring Phoenix, her dreams, and her desires.

 

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Several years ago, when Sirens focused on Tales Retold, much of the Sirens community read another work of Petrushevskaya’s: There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales. In that work, Petrushevskaya uses fairy tale motifs, often in combination with ghostly happenings, to tell stories that should be, and yet too often aren’t, important to Mother Russia: stories of kitchens, of bedrooms, of gravesites. Stories important to women and featuring women.

The next translated collection of her work, There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories, features similarly important women’s stories. This time, however, Petrushevskaya approaches her stories not through fairy tale themes, but through contemporary romance tropes. There’s little fantasy to be found in this collection, but Petrushevskaya has much to say about romance, love, sex, and regret.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 8, Issue 4 (July 2016)

In this issue:

 

SIRENS STUDIO
We are thrilled to bring the Sirens Studio back in 2016—and to say that it’ll be even better this year, with eight intensives led by extraordinary faculty on topics related to reading, writing, and career development.

While Sirens is terrific, it can be hectic: so many people to see, so many conversations to have, not nearly enough time to grab a seat by the fire and just read. The Sirens Studio, however, gives you both what you love about Sirens and that down time that we all need: small-group workshop intensives led by exceptional faculty in the morning; flexible time to read, write, or relax in the afternoon; and a film screening at night.

Like last year, the cost of attending is $50 for the full two days of the Studio, and we are limiting attendance to 50 participants. If you think you’d might like to join us, please check out our schedule, workshop intensives, and faculty—and then go here to purchase your ticket. We will also offer Studio participants a Monday night Sirens Shuttle option.

 

PROGRAMMING
We’re getting ready to start revealing this year’s presentations! The presenter registration deadline was July 9; if you missed it and are still planning to present—or if you missed the email with the result of your proposal—please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) right away. We’ll start posting accepted presentations shortly, in small batches, and putting together the conference schedule. Thanks for your assistance—and thank you again to everyone who proposed programming for this year.

By the way, once the accepted presentations start being posted on the Sirens website, you can show your support for a presenter or topic by sponsoring their session. The cost is $35 per presentation, and assuming we have your donation by August 15, 2016, we will include your name next to your chosen topic on our website and in our program book for this year’s event.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS
All recipients of scholarships (and those who didn’t receive a scholarship this year) have been sent an email about how to claim their registrations and shuttle tickets. Thank you to everyone who applied!

And thank you again to everyone who donated to support our scholarship program! In the end, we were able to provide eight scholarships.

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST​
Each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. For 2016, we’ve kicked Books and Breakfast off early—so all of you have time to choose a couple books and read! This year, we’ve also launched a program to get these books into your hands prior to Sirens.

For extra motivation, we’re giving away copies of each Books and Breakfast book—two each month! Congratulations to Kristen B. for winning June’s Giveaway. Check out how you can win Sorcerer to the Crown and Project Unicorn Vol. 1 in our post here.

 

LET’S MEET UP!
Though nothing will replace the awesomeness of four days of Sirens in October, we’re hosting a few casual meet-ups for members of Sirens community to gather throughout the year. Coming up, a meet-up in Denver!

Date: Sunday, July 31, 2016
Time: 3:00–5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Location: Slattery’s Irish Pub in the Landmark, 5364 Greenwood Plaza Boulevard in Greenwood Village, Colorado
Notes: Participants must pay for their own drinks and snacks.

We welcome all members, first-timers and veteran, and you don’t need to have attended Sirens in the past to join us. Are you new and curious? Heard of us but haven’t made it to Sirens yet? Wondering if our community is for you? Come on down! And bring your book recommendations, your friends, and your questions about Sirens.

If you think you might join us, please RSVP to either @sirens_con on Twitter, here on Facebook, or to Faye at (faye.bi at sirensconference.org).

We hope to see you soon!

 

AMY’s BOOK CLUB

LivingNextDoortotheGodofLove

What is Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reading this month? Check out her review of Justina Robson’s Living Next Door to the God of Love on the blog and on Goodreads. Some things she liked: “A killer opening. Unbelievably skillful, detailed world-building. Writing that is both rich and careful. Fully realized characters. Universe-level themes of love and humanity and society.”

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Sorcerer to the Crown

Follow Faye as she completes the 2016 Sirens Reading Challenge! This month, she read Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, which she found delightfully charming, and hopes that more authors like Zen will be “influenced by the great works of the past and with similar wit and style, create new, original stories for all.” Will you Read Along with her? Check out her review on the blog and Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Testimonials:

Last month we ran Artemis Grey’s powerful testimonial on the Sirens blog. Artemis has attended Sirens since our first conference in 2009, and just published her first novel, Catskin, in March 2016. Below is an excerpt:

But she wanted to know if there was a place for her, if there were other feral girls out there who wrote stories that were almost good enough, and other women who glided between the borders of expectation and propriety. So she went to Sirens, and everything changed.

The girl was welcomed not as a stranger, but as a sister returning home. She was brought into a fold where authors sat in circles on the floor and discussed how to find ways of writing things that were important, and yet did not fall into the mainstream definition of Important. How to change society’s definition of what was Important. She discovered, within Sirens, a world of women supporting women, supporting ideas, and processes, and points of view. A world of women embracing everything that makes them different while finding unity in everything that they share. Her Sirens Sisters did not teach her how to change herself in order to speak out, they taught her that once she discovered her own voice, it would be loud enough to be heard.

Please read the rest of the testimonial here.

 


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

 

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Books and Breakfast: July Giveaway

As Sirens veterans know, each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. Over the years, this program has highlighted the depth and breadth of each year’s theme and given early risers both company and book talk!

For 2016, we’ve kicked Books and Breakfast off early–so all of you have time to choose a couple books and read! This year, we’ve also launched a giveaway program to get these books into your hands prior to Sirens.

 

JULY GIVEAWAY

For July, we’ll be giving away, to one lucky winner, two Books and Breakfast selections: Sorcerer to the Crown and Project Unicorn, Volume 1. You can read more about the books below, but here are the rules:

To enter, you must tell us your favorite fantasy book written by a woman. All entries must be submitted by June 31, 2016, either by Tweeting them to @sirens_con or by emailing them to (help at sirensconference.org). Each individual may enter only once and you must currently reside in the United States in order to win. By entering, you grant Sirens the right to use your entry and to name you (by name or Twitter alias) in connection with that entry. The winner must provide their address to Sirens in order to receive the prize. This offer void where prohibited.

 

Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Set in England during the Napoleonic Wars, Sorcerer to the Crown is an alternate-history delight. Magic abounds, and England’s Sorcerer Royal (an important but stubbornly apolitical post) has just died under mysterious circumstances. The staff of office has chosen his successor: Zacharias, his adopted black son—a promising magician, but controversial choice. Meanwhile, in a school created to teach girls to suppress their magic (unless, of course, used in small ways around the house; think cooking and cleaning), Prunella longs for adventure. When Zacharias’s and Prunella’s paths cross unexpectedly, Prunella makes a series of audacious decisions that change her life, Zacharias’s life, and England forever.

Sorcerer to the Crown, when read with the right appreciation of its dry wit, is seriously subversive: Cho’s craft lends the reader a strong lens of our modern sensibilities through which to root for Zacharias and Prunella: both to revise England’s hopelessly sexist and racist policies with respect to magicians, and to finally, will they please finally, kiss already?

 

Project Unicorn, Volume 1

Project Unicorn, Volume 1 by Jennifer and S. E. Diemer

The subtitle of the first volume of Project Unicorn is 30 Young Adult Short Stories Featuring Lesbian Heroines. A couple years ago, wife-and-wife team, Jennifer and S. E. Diemer, began publishing two short stories a week: always young-adult, always speculative, always featuring lesbian heroines. As you might guess, the goal is to address the regrettable lack of lesbian heroines in young-adult speculative literature. While the project stalled—but has since been restarted—the authors did publish the first two volumes, a full six months of short stories, with some bonus stories that are included in only the published collections.

If you’ve read S. E. Diemer’s The Dark Wife, a re-telling of the Persephone myth with a genderbent Hades, you’ll have some idea what you might find in Project Unicorn: smart, defiant lesbian heroines who challenge expectations and make bold decisions. Additionally, a great lot of Project Unicorn is about kissing, so much kissing, so many awesome girls kissing each other.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 8, Issue 3 (June 2016)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING
Thank you to everyone who proposed programming last month! The vetting board has been busy reviewing those proposals and determining which to select for presentation at Sirens in 2016. Decisions will be emailed to presenters by June 13, and presenters must be registered by July 9. Decisions on scholarships will be emailed at about the same time proposal decisions are sent. We can’t wait to share this year’s programming with you.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS! AND A DEADLINE!
Thanks to the generosity of the Sirens community, we were able to fund eight scholarships for 2016. Three have been provided to Con or Bust, which helps people of color attend events, to be allocated in accordance with their policies. Another three will be provided for exemplary programming proposals, as determined by our scholarship committee. The final two scholarships are designated as financial hardships scholarships, open to anyone. A short application, at https://www.sirensconference.org/attend/scholarships.php, is required, and due by June 15. Recipients will be chosen randomly.

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
For 2016, we’re kicking off our Books and Breakfast program early! Each year, Sirens selects a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books on our theme—and invites attendees to bring their breakfast during the conference and have an informal conversation about those books. We’ll hope you’ll read a book or two and join us!

Friday, October 21

About a Girl by Sarah McCarry
Pantomime by Laura Lam
Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Saturday, October 22

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Project Unicorn, Vol. 1 by Sarah Diemer and Jennifer Diemer
Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope
There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

This year, for extra motivation, we’re giving copies of each Books and Breakfast book, two each month starting this month. Check out how you can win About a Girl and Song of Blood and Stone in our post here.

 

COMING SOON
Keep an eye on social media and your inbox! We’ve got a number of announcements coming your way as soon as final details are in place, and we know you’ll want to know who’s on the Sirens Studio faculty, which proposals are on the programming schedule, and most importantly, what’s for lunch. Some of these emails may request a response at your earliest convenience.

 

BEHIND THE SCENES
In mid-May, Sirens had to move our website to a new hosting provider. Our tech team did a great job, and we hope that the change means fewer connectivity issues. If you emailed us, or were expecting an email, in May and didn’t receive a notice or response, please check your bulk email (you might be finding messages from us in bulk, especially if you use Gmail, and we’re finding messages from you in our bulk folders too), and please don’t hesitate to contact us again if you think your message might have gone astray.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

TheGildaStories

What is Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reading this month? Check out her review of Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories on the blog and on Goodreads, which was written in 1991 and “features a protagonist that is black, a lesbian, and a vampire. It depicts slavery. It addresses racism and homophobia. It is unrepentantly feminist.”

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Bone Gap

This month Faye Bi reads Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap in an effort to complete the 2016 Reading Challenge, which she found full of “stunning ruminations on the burden of beauty, consent and redemption.” Will you Read Along with her? Check out her review on the blog and Goodreads.

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD

Vermilion

Our Sirens Review Squad is back! Sharon K. Goetz puts in her two cents on Molly Tanzer’s Vermilion, which she praised for its premise and setting—“Steampunk-era San Francisco (“weird Western”) with an embrace of the city’s Chinese traditions.” Read the review here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Testimonials:

 


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

 

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