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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 6 (April 2015)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING DEADLINE APPROACHING
The deadline to submit programming proposals to Sirens is May 15, 2015.

We look forward to receiving your proposals. Remember, all programming at Sirens is created and presented by attendees. Submit your proposal now!

You can get information on how to put together a programming proposal on our website, and we’ve posted our annual programming series on our blog. Check it out for help turning your idea into a presentation, as well as for thoughts and experiences from others who’ve presented and how they made a proposal.

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

If you’re still thinking about what to present, please join us for a chat. We’ll be talking about programming ideas on Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. This link will take you to a chat on the Sirens website during that time; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

#SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras). We recently held a chat on Twitter, too, where ideas were floated for anyone to take. Here are just a couple examples:

  • 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

We believe involving everyone in the dialogue of the conference is critical, and that’s why our only presenter requirement is that you be old enough to attend. Please know that we value hearing from everyone—and if a topic interests you, it probably interests other attendees, too. If you have any questions about programming, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

REGISTER
Staff members recently visited the 2015 site for Sirens. We’re happy to report that the lobby space at the Inverness Hotel has been renovated! Now better than ever, the hotel boasts ample natural light, outlets for all your power needs, a new fireplace, and plenty of cozy seating. In addition, the dining locations have been renovated, and a new coffee bar serves your favorite caffeinated drinks until early afternoon. We can’t wait to share this lovely space with you.

InvernessLobbyRenovated

Register now for Sirens in Denver, Colorado.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

TheYoungElites

Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. April’s book is The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Join the discussion here on Goodreads.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

Marvel is spotlighting female heroes in their new bi-monthly anthology.

Awesome: Women SFF artists redesign female characters.

Ursula K. Le Guin on Kazuo Ishiguro: “Are they going to say this is fantasy?

From Harper Voyager: Fiona McIntosh remembers Sara Douglass.

Princess Rap Battle: Cinderella vs. Belle.

From Esquire: A look at genre vs. literary fiction.

From NPR: A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella.

From The Guardian: Kapow! Attack of the feminist superheroes.

Matrilines: The Woman Who Made Fantasy: Katherine Kurtz.

 

Recent Releases:

2015AprilCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

March 1:
The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Anne Noble

March 3:
Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4), Patricia Briggs

March 10:
The Doll Collection, Ellen Datlow
Persona, Genevieve Valentine

March 17:
The Witch of Painted Sorrows (The Daughters of La Lune #1), M. J. Rose

March 19:
The Glorious Angels, Justina Robson

March 24:
Medicine for the Dead (Children of the Drought #2), Arianne “Tex” Thompson

April 1:
By Tooth and Claw (Clan of the Claw), S. M. Stirling, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Jody Lynn Nye

April 2:
The D’Evil Diaries, Tatum Flynn

April 7:
Awakening, Shannon Duffy
Dark Heir (Jane Yellowrock #9), Faith Hunter
Emissary: The Second Book of the Seven Eyes, Betsy Dornbusch
Empire of Night (Age of Legends #2), Kelley Armstrong
Every Breath You Take (Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire #3), Chris Marie Green
Garden of Dreams and Desires (Crescent City #3), Kristen Painter
Genuine Sweet, Faith Harkey
Miss Mayhem, Rachel Hawkins
Palace of Lies, Margaret Peterson Haddix
Rolling in the Deep, Mira Grant
Tracker: A Foreigner Novel (Foreigner #16), C. J. Cherryh
Vengeance of the Demon (Kara Gillian #7), Diana Rowland

April 9:
Lumberjanes #1, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke A. Allen (Art)

April 10:
Lagoon (U.S. edition), Nnedi Okorafor

April 14:
Bloodkin (The Maeve’ra Trilogy #2), Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Dream a Little Dream, Kerstin Gier
Forged (Taken #3), Erin Bowman
Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk, Liesl Shurtliff
The Second Guard, J. D. Vaughn
The Water and the Wild, K. E. Ormsbee and Elsa Mora (Illustrations)
Window Wall (Glass Thorns #4), Melanie Rawn
The Wondrous and the Wicked (The Dispossessed #3), Page Morgan

April 15:
Vermilion, Molly Tanzer

April 21:
Beauty’s Kingdom, A. N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Becoming Jinn, April Goldstein
Castle Hangnail, Ursula Vernon
The Decaying Empire (The Vanishing Girl #2), Laura Thalassa
Desert Rising, Kelley Grant
Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas, Kazuki Sakuraba
Pirate’s Alley (Sentinels of New Orleans #4), Suzanne Johnson
The Silver Witch, Paula Brackston
Stolen Magic, Gail Carson Levine
War of Shadows (Ascendant Kingdoms #3), Gail Z. Martin

April 28:
Charm, Sarah Pinborough
Deception’s Pawn, Esther Friesner
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
The Eternity Key, Bree Despain
The Game of Love and Death, Martha Brockenbrough
The Girl at Midnight, Melissa Grey
Hunted Warrior, Lindsey Piper
The Jumbies, Tracey Baptiste
Legend: The Graphic Novel, Marie Lu, Leigh Dragoon, and Kaari (Art)
Magonia, Maria Dahvana Headley
Medusa the Rich, Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
The Memory Painter, Gwendolyn Womack
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
Rogue, Julie Kagawa
The Shattered Court, M.J. Scott
Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories #5), Mary Robinette Kowal
Rook, Sharon Cameron
Valiant, Sarah McGuire

 

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.”

 

InterrogationofAshalaWolfThe Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
Ambelin Kwaymullina
Candlewick

When I started The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, I kept flipping to the flap copy—was this book two? At the beginning, Ashala aks her captor philosophical questions and refers to past events in a way that feels very much like a sequel. Yet, this was Kwaymullina’s first novel, so I knew I had to read on. Over the course of the first fifty pages, I gathered a handful of ideas. The world we know has ended, and 300 years after that, the scant human population shares space with sentient cats and saurs, and is asking a great question: Should all humans be allowed to live freely, and are all humans included in the old definition of human? Soon after, I realized that the story didn’t start in the wrong place—instead, I had a mystery to unravel.

In the time of rebuilding, there are humans who have developed abilities, most of them related to manipulating the natural world. The government won’t allow them to be citizens, for the most part, and too often, children found to have abilities die during the identification process. Ashala, leader of a Tribe of children with abilities who hide in the Firstwood, has been captured and taken to a detention center, where new technology, a computer, can look into her brain for information about rebels. If anyone can fight the interrogation, it’s Ashala, who can Sleepwalk and perform amazing feats while she dreams. Soon, however, all her stories begin to unravel, and her ability to protect the Tribe, and herself, is endangered. The problem is that her memories are suspect, and it’s not clear who she can trust.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a fascinating example of both near-future fantasy and of nonlinear storytelling. Kwayamullina, an Aboriginal writer and illustrator from the Palyku people in Australia, is shaping a series about the Tribe, and an author’s note at the end of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf explains a bit of how her cultural beliefs influenced the story. If you’re looking for a page turner, I recommend trying this book. – Undusty New Books


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

 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Six: Workshops and Afternoon Classes

In this last part of our annual series on programming proposals, we’ll cover workshops and afternoon classes. While the focus and structure of these types of presentations are a little different, the proposal process is very much the same.

 
Workshops
Workshop sessions are led by an instructor and focus on the application and practice of craft. Generally, an attendee will expect to gain or expand upon a particular skill at a workshop, and the opportunity for participation marks this style of presentation.

Workshops often focus on some aspect of fantasy-related craft, like writing or art, but might also take a practical turn. Some examples:

  • how to plan a book club/reading group
  • how to write a satisfying ending
  • resources for library collection planning and development
  • how to self-edit your fantasy book
  • how to draw La Llorona

Seating specifics depend on the allotted rooms and overall program schedule, but typically, workshops have limited seating so that the instructor (or instructors) can answer questions and provide assistance to all of a workshop’s attendees.

 
Afternoon Classes
Afternoon classes are less formal demonstrations or classes in areas related to fantasy literature. They are not meant to replace workshops; instead, they are an opportunity for presentations that are of interest to fantasy fans but that are less closely related to the conference’s focus or theme, or topics that are fantasy-based but not necessarily related to a particular work. Afternoon classes may be similar to workshops or be more demonstration-based than how-to, and may be led by one instructor or a group. Some examples:

  • historical dress and music
  • martial arts
  • weaponry
  • battle strategy
  • costume construction
  • folk dancing
  • displayed collections of related works, like comics about women in fantasy

Afternoon classes are scheduled in blocks that range from one hour to 90 minutes, depending on available space and time during the conference, but instructors should plan for a shorter time block rather than a longer one.

Please note: If you’re unsure about which particular proposal type to choose, we’re happy to help. You can leave a comment here, attend an open chat, or write to (programming at sirensconference.org) for a consultation.

 
Timing
If you choose to propose a workshop or class and it is accepted, you’ll be scheduled in a 50-minute time block (unless you’ve explained and justified a request for additional time and we’re able to provide it—we won’t be able to confirm the length until the schedule is complete, usually in August).

If you have a workshop or class idea that could be presented in less than one hour, please consider teaming up with another presenter to team-teach or present on two items in a 50-minute block.

Afternoon classes are usually scheduled in the late afternoon, as more formal presentations wind down, and so we can rearrange chairs or make some noise if needed. We’ll try to find the best fit on the schedule, however, even if that means a different time during the day.

 
Getting Started
First, you’ll need to choose a focus for your workshop or class. What do you know that you can teach to someone else in about an hour? How can you make your workshop interactive and relevant? Are you aiming your workshop at beginners, intermediates, or advanced participants?

Once you’ve focused your idea, you’ll need some information ready to make your proposal.

 
Personal Information to Gather
1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2015 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.

2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.

3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.

4. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 
Proposal Information to Gather
There are three items that you’ll need for a complete workshop or afternoon class proposal.

1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the workshop or afternoon class is about.

2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. This is where you have the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in attending your workshop or afternoon class. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective(s) on the topic.

Here are a couple of examples from past years that we think are excellent:

What brings people together better than the written word? If you’re looking for a way to increase the appreciation and readership of speculative fiction in your city or school, you might consider creating your own literary journal or zine! We’ll learn about the simple steps to create your own journal and then develop a unique concept to take home! [workshop]

Would you love to include horses in your manuscripts, but find that you don’t actually know much—or anything—about them? Many authors write horses into their books without consulting a professional horsewoman (okay, or horseman) first. The result might be an amusing mistake, or a total turnoff to the reader. Don’t worry; with a basic understanding of horses and the equipment related to them, anyone can write horses into their stories as a mode of transportation or as fully realized secondary characters. [workshop]

Bring your curiosity to this presentation on dark ages armor. Dave will show you materials commonly used to make dark ages armor such as leather, hides, and wrought iron, as well as a few dark ages weapons. He will demonstrate the effectiveness of these weapons in penetrating these armor materials. Attendees may be able to try on various bits of armor. By the end of this class, you’ll have an appreciation for armor used in the dark ages and how effective it would be at enhancing the survivability and combat potential of those who wore it. [afternoon class]

You are invited to an introductory class about Scottish Country Dancing, an eighteenth century style of ballroom dancing that is still popular today. This is a fun and social style of group dancing (and it’s really hard to step on your partner’s toes!). The class will include two ceilidh (informal) dances and one basic ballroom dance. Enthusiastic participation is necessary, but previous experience is not. [afternoon class]

This afternoon class is designed to teach attendees the very basics of faerie wing construction using at least two distinct types of materials: fabric and cellophane. Other materials and types of wings will be discussed to show attendees the variety of options they have when creating costume pieces. Each person will be given a pre-built wire frame as a base to build their individualized wings. Participants are asked to donate a small amount to material costs. [afternoon class]

As a storyteller, a public person in the world, your voice is an important and powerful instrument. Your whole body, your whole being is your voice! This workshop will give you a toolbox of warm-ups and exercises that will set you on the path to your own sound. Would you like to explore vocal techniques that help keep an audience riveted as you read to them? Would you like to learn how to project your voice powerfully without fatigue or soreness? Would you like to feel freer using your voice? Come prepared to work your breath, move your body, and make noise with Pan Morigan, music director of Chrysalis Theater and award-winning vocalist/songwriter. You absolutely do not have to be a singer or experienced “voice person” to attend! Even experienced singers have to deal with vocal basics every day, and you can do it too. Come play! [afternoon class]

3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but short—version of your presentation.

For a workshop or afternoon class, you can choose to summarize your workshop in a paragraph or two, or you might put together a lesson plan for your workshop instead. Be sure to explain any terms that might be unfamiliar.

You are welcome to submit a lesson plan; an outline of your plans can be more helpful than a summary of your philosophy. Please note, however, that a lesson plan is more than just an outline. A lesson plan includes, very specifically, the purpose for the lesson, what a student will learn, how the teacher will go about the lesson, and what the outcome will be.

Here are a couple of resources you might use to put together a brief but cohesive abstract section for your proposal:

If you’d prefer to write a formal abstract, some of the previous posts in this series included more in-depth information.

 
More tips:
Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources. If you’re taking the lesson plan route—highly recommended—you’ll need to walk through the content and timing of your workshop or afternoon class.

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual workshop or afternoon class, and helps the vetting board see the value of what you’ll teach, and why it’s important.

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” usually results in a declined presentation, because the board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal, or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board will decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

 
Audio-Visual Requests
Workshops typically seat 25–40 attendees, so the provision of microphones depends on the overall schedule, the size of the room we have available for your workshop, and so on. You can make a request for computer and LCD projector, but please remember that we prioritize use of equipment for visually-oriented presentations, and consider what you might do if extra audio-visual support isn’t available. (We’re typically able to offer projection to workshops, but we can’t confirm availability until the schedule is complete. Please do explain how you’ll use a projector at the end of your abstract!) An easel and a small dry erase board will be provided.

We do try to fulfill as many audio-visual requests as possible, particularly for presentations like workshops, but it never hurts to have a plan B in mind. Afternoon classes are supported with audio-visual equipment in much the same way.

Typically, we schedule afternoon classes in larger spaces than workshops, particularly if they’re demonstration-based or if materials aren’t needed for each person.

 
FAQ about Proposals for Workshops and Afternoon Classes
What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?
Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 8, 2015. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

When is the proposal deadline?
May 15, 2015.

Do you accept all workshops/afternoon classes?
No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects the presentations that will be accepted for Sirens.

If my proposal is declined, can you tell me why?
Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my paper/presentation?
Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your paper. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?
As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come?
If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 15, 2015, you can ask around to see if someone can take your place or withdraw the presentation. Perhaps another attendee would be willing to fill in at the conference if you can provide your lesson plan. We have a Facebook page and message boards where you can post for assistance. We appreciate it when you make an effort to ensure that your presentation can remain on the schedule. If you’re unsure what to do, write to (programming at sirensconference.org) and we’ll talk about options.

Can I change the title of my workshop or class later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?
If you provide us with the information before the presentation is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary, as long as the focus of your presentation is not substantially changed. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to your presentation, and it is earlier than May 15, 2015, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?
Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 9 or 10, 2015.

Do you “track” presentations?
We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter, to post on Facebook, and to check out our message boards to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

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

 
Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information
Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)
 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

 
Join Us for a Chat!
We’re hosting a chat on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas. Join us on Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during that time; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

Also, our Twitter account is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15. #SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras).
 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Five: Roundtable Discussions

Proposals are due May 15, 2015! Jump on over to the programming section of the Sirens website if you’re ready to submit your proposal now.

 
Next up in our ongoing series on preparing a programming proposal: roundtable discussions!

Roundtable discussions are group chats led by a single moderator. These discussions are scheduled in rooms that accommodate no more than 25 attendees so that everyone can take an active part in the discussion, and so that it’s possible for the moderator to keep the discussion on track.

Roundtables depend on audience interaction for success. If you’re trying to figure out whether a topic is best suited to a roundtable or a panel, consider the degree of interactivity and the scale of participation, as well as whether you have a topic broad enough for the audience to dig into as individuals. For a roundtable, the interest is in the discussion the audience brings to the presentation, and the moderator proposes questions for everyone to answer; for a panel, the interest is in the viewpoints, discussion, and knowledge of the panelists, and the panelists do the majority of the talking.

A roundtable is:

  • a small and highly interactive discussion,
  • led by one person who keeps order and keeps the conversation moving
  • about a topic that is familiar or accessible to most of the audience
  • designed to engage all of the members of the audience

Roundtable discussions are scheduled as 50-minute blocks. Plan for at least 40 minutes of lively discussion, and you’ll probably find that audience questions and contributions easily fill 50 minutes!

 
Getting Started
First, you’ll need to choose a topic and focus for your roundtable. Consider the potential directions that the discussion about your topic might take and make notes of works that might be relevant. You’ll need to propose at least ten thoughtful questions for a 50 minute roundtable discussion. Once you’ve focused your idea, you’ll need some information to make your proposal.

 
Personal Information to Gather
1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2015 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.

2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.

3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.

4. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 
Proposal Information to Gather
There are three items that you’ll need for a complete roundtable proposal.

1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the roundtable discussion is about.

2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. This is where you have the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in attending your roundtable discussion. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective(s) on the topic.

Here are a couple of examples from past roundtable discussions that we think are excellent:

In recent years, there has been a growing acceptance and inclusion of gay and lesbian characters in fantasy literature. But these still fall into binary patterns: men and women, heterosexual and homosexual. What about people who fall outside of this binary? Asexuals, demisexuals, transgender people, and people without gender? How are they represented? This roundtable encourages discussion on these topics as well as reading recommendations for those interested in books that fall outside the binary.

Female political leaders in fantasy include hereditary rulers and elected leaders, women warriors, and civil servants. This roundtable will consider the different types of political leadership demonstrated by women in fantasy literature. How is their leadership shaped by their gender, their age, and the political system in which they work? How do these characters gain and exercise their political power? Have depictions of female political leaders in fantasy changed over time?

Whether she’s the hand that rocks the cradle, offers the poison apple, or laces up the corset, a mother’s influence is a powerful thing. This roundtable will discuss popular images of motherhood in fantasy and examine young heroines both as daughters and as potential mothers themselves. We’ll pay special attention to the dark, violent, or monstrous mother figure who lurks behind the caregiver—and might want to eat you.

Having once read about the “invisible hands” of the off-page servants and staff in Austen’s work and other historic literature, I wonder about how much history-inspired S/F either relegates off the page or forgets entirely the community required to run a great house, fortress, or even ranch. Who is raising the corn? Who is hauling the bathwater? Do they have stories to tell?

This roundtable discussion will examine and dissect everyday sexism found within fantasy literature. We will focus both on the sexism women writers encounter within the publishing industry in regard to their characters and stories as well as in regard to themselves as writers, and how they’re subsequently represented to the public at large. Participants will be prompted to discuss commonly known facets of sexism, such as the encouragement of J. K. Rowling’s publisher that she use only her initials because they feared boys would be less interested in reading a book written by a woman, as well as lesser known incidents or personal experiences of sexism. This can include anything from writing under a pseudonym, to being asked to change a character’s sex simply for audience appeal, or the always popular “Your female character isn’t likeable or approachable, change her.” In addition to looking at female authors and the sexism they’ve faced, we’ll explore the fact that under certain circumstances, a male writer having written the same thing might not have been asked to alter their characters or the name under which their work is being marketed.

Death and rebirth is a common step along the hero’s or heroine’s journey, so it is not uncommon for sci-fi and fantasy characters to have near-death experiences or ghostly visitations while on death’s threshold. This roundtable will explore the purpose and commonalities of fictional near-death experiences and associated tropes. We will also discuss how the fictional depictions compare to real life accounts and various cultural myths.

Why can only a virgin girl tame a unicorn? And what is the origin of the succubus—always a beautiful, seductive woman, who is not only hyper-sexual, but often intent on killing her male lovers? How have these portrayals of women in mythology and folklore affected fantasy writing to this day? And how much of women’s sexuality in current fantasy novels is reflective of our own modern social mores?

Can Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games be understood as folklore? Katniss’s journey is that of the archetypal hero in many aspects. If viewed from a folklore perspective, the narrative role of storytelling and the storyteller is complicated, especially in regards to Katniss’s story versus the Mockingjay’s, and in the ownership and creation of that storytelling process. After outlining folklore conventions evident in The Hunger Games, we will discuss how this perspective alters and illuminates the role of stories retold, again and again. Perhaps we can even answer the question behind it all: just whose story was Collins telling?

For more inspiration, you might visit the Sirens archive to read summaries that have been accepted in the last few years.

3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but short—version of your presentation.

For roundtable discussions, you have the option of submitting sample discussion questions instead of an abstract, and this option is highly recommended. You’ll need at least ten thoughtful questions. An example of how you might approach your abstract as a series of questions is included below.

  1. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Luna refuses to be bullied, in part because she does not respond to that sort of attention. How does this illuminate her decision to become part of Dumbledore’s Army?
  2. Do you think she’s inclined toward resistance due to her beliefs about what is right, or because she’s already inclined to be unconventional? Or some other reason?
  3. How has Harry’s understanding of and relationship with Luna changed over the last few books? What about Luna’s relationship with other members of The Six?
  4. J. K. Rowling uses Luna as the commentator for the last Quidditch match we see in the books. Why Luna? What particular meta commentary can only Luna make here? What other characters might have worked in the same role, if not Luna?
  5. What role do you think Luna played in Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
  6. How do you think Luna responded to punishment she received while at Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
  7. We finally meet someone from Luna’s family: Xenophilius Lovegood. Is this the home life you’d imagined for Luna?
  8. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Luna is briefly matched against Bellatrix with Hermione and Ginny. Is there something more here—is this partly because Bellatrix and Luna are both guided by faith, or perhaps to show Luna as having “grrl power”?
  9. Many of the women in the Harry Potter series could be said to represent ideas for Harry—love, family, etc. If that’s so, what might Luna represent?
  10. J. K. Rowling has mentioned in an interview that she imagines Luna going on to become a naturalist and marry a grandson of Newt Scamander. Is this what you imagined for her? What other alternatives would seem likely, given what we learned about Luna in the series?

If you’d prefer to write a formal abstract, some of the previous posts in this series included more in-depth information. View them using the programming tag on our blog.

 
More tips:
Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources. If you’re taking the discussion questions route, you’ll need at least ten solid sample questions. (And one extra tip: avoid yes/no questions for these!)

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual roundtable discussion, and should be able to stand alone. A good abstract will include your thesis or approach, supporting details or arguments, and most importantly, your results, recommendations, or conclusion. The vetting board wants you to spoil the ending! (In a summary, you probably want to write something more like book jacket copy, but for the abstract, summarize the plot.)

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” usually results in a declined presentation, because the board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal, or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board will decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

Remember that the roundtable discussion option allows for only one moderator/presenter. Please don’t plan a co-moderated roundtable discussion; if you’re looking for an option that allows for collaborators, try another presentation style. Not sure what to do? Email us! We’re happy to help.

 
Audio-Visual Requests
Roundtables are meant to be interactive and conversational, and so they are scheduled for smaller spaces. No microphone will be needed or provided, and projection is not available. Need a visual aid? Consider printing out one or two copies to pass around the room. An easel and a small dry erase board will be available.

 
FAQ about Proposals for Roundtable Discussions
What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?
Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 8, 2015. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

When is the proposal deadline?
May 15, 2015.

Do you accept all roundtable discussions?
No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects which roundtables will be accepted for Sirens.

If my roundtable discussion is declined, can you tell me why?
Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my roundtable discussion?
Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?
As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come?
If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 15, 2015, you can ask around to see if someone can take your place or withdraw the proposal. Alternatively, perhaps another attendee would be willing to take your place at the conference if you can provide them with your sample questions. We appreciate it when you make an effort to ensure that your roundtable can remain on the schedule. If you’re unsure what to do, write to (programming at sirensconference.org) and we’ll talk about options.

Can I change the title of my roundtable later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?
If you provide us with the information before the roundtable discussion is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to the content of your presentation, and it is earlier than May 15, 2015, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?
Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 9 or 10, 2015.

Do you “track” presentations?
We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter, to post on Facebook, and to check out our message boards to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

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

 
Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information
Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)
 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

 
Join Us for a Chat!
We’re hosting a chat on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas. Join us on Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during that time; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

We’ll also be holding a chat on Twitter: Sirens will hold a Twitter brainstorming session for programming topics. It will be held on on April 8 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Our Twitter account is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15.

Also, #SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras).
 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Four: Panels

Part one of our programming series covered general proposal preparation, part two described presentation styles, and part three explained papers, talks, and presentations.

On to panels!

Panels usually consist of 3–4 panelists and a moderator. The moderator and panelists discuss a topic of interest, with most of the discussion coming from the panel (though the moderator may take some questions from the audience).

Panels are scheduled in a 50-minute time block, and you should expect to spend most of that time presenting your panel’s discussion. (It’s okay to build in some time for questions, but have enough discussion prepared in case there aren’t many—and consider that structuring the panel’s discussion around some thoughtful questions means you’ll get to the good stuff.)

Panels are particularly well-suited for finding out about a group’s experiences or for discussing a topic among several people with very diverse viewpoints.

If, for example, you have:

  • two people who have different perspectives on a particular theme
  • three people who are really interested in the use of dragons in fantasy
  • four people who are all at different points in their publishing careers
  • or a big question, like the future of fantasy, and you’d like to host a debate about the genre’s path

…you might want to organize a panel.

If you’re thinking that you’d really like to see an item on the schedule, but you have more questions than answers, you could organize the panel as the moderator!

If you’re trying to figure out whether a topic is best suited to a roundtable or a panel:

  • Consider the degree of interactivity and the scale of participation. A panel is meant to be a small and highly interactive discussion among 3–4 panelists, with one person keeping order and keeping the conversation moving. A roundtable is meant to be a small and highly interactive discussion among no more than 25 people, with one person keeping order and keeping the conversation moving. For a roundtable, the interest is in the discussion the audience brings to the presentation, and for the panel, the interest is in the viewpoints of the panelists.
  • From a moderator’s standpoint, panels take a little more prep time than roundtables, because you’ll need to ask people to be part of your panel, and because you’ll want to (and probably need to!) have a conversation in advance about the shape of the panel, the emphases, potential questions, how to manage your time, and so on.
  • Roundtable discussions don’t involve others at the proposal stage, but can be more challenging to moderate, because you won’t have any idea who will attend or how the attendees will shape the discussion.

 
Getting Started
First, you’ll need to choose a topic and focus for your panel, and you’ll need to gather panelists. You can approach people you know or people that you don’t, but we highly recommend that you contact potential panelists before you submit their email addresses as panelists. That way, no one is surprised!

For panels, it’s often a good idea to narrow down your focus with input from your panelists—you never know what experiences they might have to share that can help shape the panel. Also, if you’ve disagreed amicably with someone on a topic, consider forming a panel that explores different aspects of an issue or theme.

The panelists can also take a role in preparing the summary and abstract for your proposal, not to mention leading the discussion and asking questions of other panelists at the conference, and they should be prepared to answer questions from the moderator, other panelists, and even the audience.

Once you’ve focused your idea, you’ll need some information ready to make your proposal.

 
Personal Information to Gather
1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2015 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.

2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.

3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.

4. Email addresses of the panelists. You won’t give us the names or biographies of your other panelists; we’ll send them an email request for that information. They will need to respond to the information request email for your panel to be considered, so please let your co-presenters know that this email is on the way and ask them to reply promptly. As with the rest of your information, presenters’ emails must be provided before your proposal is reviewed; you can’t submit a panel and find other presenters only after (or if) the panel is approved. (Also, a panelist who is not the moderator can be the one to submit the proposal, but it’s probably easiest all around if the moderator takes care of this task and becomes the point of contact.)

5. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 
Proposal Information to Gather
1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the panel is about.

2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. This is where you have the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in attending your panel. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective(s) on the topic.

Here are a couple of examples from past panels that we think are excellent:

Much fiction, and much of our society, is viewed from “the male gaze.” This is a perspective in which expectations of what matters and what is worth being written about, as well as the way in which characters and events are seen and described, is from what might be called a “male view” of the world. What, then, is the female gaze? How do stories change when seen from the point of view of female desire and female agency? How do we read those stories differently? And does the critical establishment view such stories differently than those written with the more “normative” male gaze?

Food in fantasy is often unthinkingly patterned on our own world and on clichés—aren’t we all tired of journeyers mindlessly eating stew? Consider that fantasy is thinner and weaker without thoroughly considering the foodways of the world. Unpacking food questions gives rise to musing on land types and land usage, food storage and preparation, nutritional needs, and also larger social constructs.

Manga and anime feature a wide variety of monsters, from the morally ambiguous homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist to the bizarre demon-weapons of Soul Eater to the charming creatures of Fruits Basket. Sometimes the monster is female, and sometimes the monster-slayer is—and, as in Claymore, sometimes the line between them blurs. This panel will discuss the monstrous female and the “monster girl” in anime and manga.

From The Descent of Inanna to Dante’s Divine Comedy to Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Farthest Shore, journeys to the underworld/afterlife have been a staple of fantastic literature. This panel will discuss both the ancient tradition of underworld journeys and how this tradition is used in modern fantasy. Why does this theme have such an enduring appeal? How do modern novels use and transform it?

3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but very short!—version of your presentation. For a panel, it should outline the topic you plan to address and points for discussion, explain your panelists’ perspectives, and provide a couple of sample questions. Here are a couple of resources you might use to put together a brief but cohesive abstract section for your proposal, if you’d like it to be more formal:

 
More tips:
Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources.

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual panel, and should be able to stand alone. A good abstract will include your thesis or approach, supporting details or arguments, and most importantly, your results, recommendations, or conclusion. The vetting board wants you to spoil the ending! (In a summary, you probably want to write something more like book jacket copy, but for the abstract, summarize the plot.)

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” usually results in a declined presentation, because the board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal, or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board will decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

Three to four panelists, including the moderator, is a good size for a 50-minute panel. Everyone has ample time to speak, there will be minimal microphone sharing, and you have enough people for multiple perspectives. The submissions system will allow a moderator to name up to four additional panelists; beyond that, you must email us to add participants.

 
Audio-Visual Requests

  • Panels are routinely provided with microphones when the space is larger than a small classroom. We request that presenters use the microphones to assist the audience in hearing the entire presentation. Usually, one microphone is available for the moderator, with one or more shared microphones for panelists.
  • You can make a request for an LCD projector (with computer), but please remember that we prioritize use of equipment for visually-oriented presentations, and consider what you might do if extra audio-visual support isn’t available. We’re typically able to provide this support—we just can’t guarantee it at the time we notify presenters of acceptance. Generally, panels focus on discussion, however, so extra equipment is less likely to be available. Presentation rooms have an easel and a small dry erase board as standard equipment.
  • Some presenters will bring several copies of a handout to pass around and then collect email addresses of those who would like a copy after the conference, which saves room in everybody’s suitcase and is environmentally friendly. We approve!

 
FAQ about Proposals for Panels
What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?
Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 8, 2015. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

What is the proposal deadline?
May 15, 2015.

Do you accept all panels?
No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects the panels that will be accepted for Sirens.

If my panel is declined, can you tell me why?
Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my panel?
Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org). We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?
As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come? What if one of the panelists can’t come?
If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 15, 2015, perhaps another panelist can act as moderator for your panel, or perhaps another attendee you know would be willing to fill in at the conference and will take your place. You may find that a post on the Sirens Facebook or message boards works to find a replacement as well. We appreciate it when you make an effort to ensure that your panel can remain on the schedule. If there are not at least two people able to attend and present your panel, please have the panel moderator write to (programming at sirensconference.org) and we’ll talk about options.

Can I change the title of my panel later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?
If you provide us with the information before the panel is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary, as long as the focus of your panel is not substantially changed. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to your presentation, and it is earlier than May 15, 2015, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?
Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 9 or 10, 2015.

Do you “track” presentations?
We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter, to post on Facebook, and to check out our message boards to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

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

 
Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information
Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)
 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

 
Join Us for a Chat!
We’re hosting a chat on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas. Join us on Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during that time; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

We’ll also be holding a chat on Twitter: Sirens will hold a Twitter brainstorming session for programming topics. It will be held on on April 8 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Our Twitter account is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15.

Also, #SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras).
 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Three: Papers, Presentations, Lectures, and Pre-empaneled Papers

In part one of this series, we discussed some general information on programming. In part two, we detailed different ways to structure your proposal. Our next few posts will show you how to prepare proposals for each type of programming.

We’re going to use “paper” as shorthand, but please note that this post applies to other sorts of talks, lectures, and presentations.

This presentation style can range from a formal reading of a prepared paper to a more relaxed speech, where the presenter refers to notes to make her points. The presenter can go solo or work with others on a paper, or several presenters can read short papers as a set.

If your topic…

  • documents patterns
  • looks for hidden or subtle meanings
  • brings together knowledge from different areas to expand on what’s in the books you’ve read
  • compares and contrasts works, characters, or authors
  • reports on research
  • uses a specific lens for interpreting literature or art
  • presents meta!
  • or critiques novels, themes, or approaches

…it could make a fantastic paper.

This is a good presentation style if you prefer to speak from a pre-written paper or speech, and it’s especially good if you need to lay significant groundwork for your audience, be persuasive, or delve into information that your audience might be unfamiliar with.

A group of several people may submit pre-empaneled papers, meaning that those papers have some connection, no matter how small, and the group would like to share a 50-minute time block for presenting. The only difference in the submission process is that person who begins the proposal in the system will need to provide a title and summary for the group as a whole, as well as the email addresses for all co-panelists, who will be contacted separately to provide their information. Each person will need to provide an individual biography, summary, and abstract.

Presenters may choose either 25-minute or 50-minute time blocks, which will include your reading or speech as well as any discussion and questions from (or for!) the audience. We’ll match up shorter papers and presentations so that they fill a 50-minute time block; for pre-empaneled papers with more than two presenters, we’ll try to give you extra time on the schedule.

If you’ll be reading from what you’ve prepared in advance, a 6- to 10-page double-spaced paper is about right for the 25-minute time block; assume 2,000 to 3,000 words. For a 50-minute time block, assume a little less than twice that to leave time for discussion and to catch your breath or take a drink of water. Of course, it depends also on how fast you speak, whether you take time out for explanations, and so on, so determine in advance whether you need to err or the short side to make it to the conclusion during your allotted time.

 
Getting Started
As with other types of presentations, you’ll need to choose your focus, as well as a target for how long you’ll need to present your thoughts. From there, you’ll need to put together a strong abstract. (You don’t have to write a complete paper to turn in; we won’t ask for it at all, unless you’d like to be published in the conference compendium.)

 
Personal Information to Gather
1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2015 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.

2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.

3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.

4. If you are starting a proposal for a group of pre-empaneled papers, you’ll need the email addresses of the other presenters. You won’t give us the names or biographies of your other presenters; we’ll send them an email request for that information. Your other presenters will need to respond to the information request email for your pre-empaneled papers to be considered, so please let your co-presenters know that this email is on the way and ask them to reply promptly. As with the rest of your information, presenters’ emails must be provided before your proposal is reviewed; you can’t submit a panel of papers and find other presenters only after (or if) the panel is approved. (Also, a co-presenter, rather than a moderator, can be the one to submit the proposal, but it’s probably easiest all around if the moderator takes care of this task and becomes the point of contact.)

5. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 
Proposal Information to Gather
1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the paper, lecture, or presentation is about.

2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. The summary gives you the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in hearing your paper. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective on the topic. Here’s one example that we’ve borrowed from a paper that was presented at Sirens in 2009:

This presentation examines Holly Black’s and Melissa Marr’s works of faerie fantasy and explores how each author’s series complicates and/or subverts faerie tale conventions both to deconstruct gender binaries and to resist new (and equally constraining) reconstructions of gender roles. Through their respective reimaginings of faerie tale narratives, Black and Marr effectively problematize the traditional dualities of the faerie tale: good and evil, virtue and vice, self and other, and—most particularly—masculine and feminine.

Here are four more, from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, that we think are excellent examples:

The myths and legends of India and many of its neighbors feature beautiful snake women and cannibal demons, celestial dancers, and nature spirits, most of whom are largely unknown in the West. Through storytelling, discussion, and slides from popular Indian comic books, we will introduce the magical and monstrous women of South Asian tales, with a focus on the fluidity and ambiguity of their classification as monstrous or simply supernatural.

This essay examines the way in which Angela Carter and Karen Russell recast the historical rehabilitation of savage girls in their respective short fictions, “Wolf-Alice” and “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.” These narratives, along with poetry by Janet McAdams and Bhanu Kapil, will serve as imaginative interrogations of the gendered pedagogy that informed the attempted re-educations of Marie-Angélique Leblanc, the Wild Girl of Champagne, in the eighteenth century—and Kamala and Amala, the so-called Wolf Girls of India, in the twentieth century.

Many first-person novels use the conceit that the book itself is being written by the narrator. Fewer make that act of writing an integral part of the plot. In C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, Orual’s telling of her own story transforms her, as she comes to understand how she has been telling stories to control others and justify herself all her life. Her journey becomes an exploration of the ways in which stories are inherently participatory and transformative—and sometimes redemptive.

Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw” is known for being a ghost story, but it is also a love story. This paper looks at both love story and ghost story, and at the three couples that feature in them: Uncle and Governess; Miles and Flora; Quint and Miss Jessel. In doing so it hopes to discover exactly what kind of dangers the ghosts of Bly—an abandoned woman and a thoughtless rake—represent to the heroine.

For more examples, please check out the archives of past years’ presentations (look for the links in the navigation bar at the top to move from year to year).

3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but very short!—version of your presentation. For a paper or lecture, it should outline the topic you plan to address and points for discussion, explain your conclusion, and point to major sources or theories that have influenced your thinking. Here are a couple of resources you might use to put together a brief but cohesive abstract section for your proposal:

 
More tips:
Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources.

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual paper, and should be able to stand alone. A good abstract will include your thesis or approach, supporting details or arguments, and most importantly, your results, recommendations, or conclusion. The vetting board wants you to spoil the ending! (In a summary, you probably want to write something more like book jacket copy, but for the abstract, summarize the plot.)

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” usually results in a declined presentation, because the board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal, or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board won’t see your entire paper, and they won’t know if you’re the most engaging speaker to present in a hundred years. They’ll decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

 
Audio-Visual Requests

  • Paper presenters are routinely provided with microphones, and we request that presenters use the microphone to assist the audience in hearing the entire presentation.
  • A table and podium will be available, allowing you to stand or sit down.
  • You can make a request for an LCD projector (with computer), but please remember that we prioritize use of equipment for visually-oriented presentations, and consider what you might do if extra audio-visual support isn’t available. We’re typically able to provide this support—we just can’t guarantee it at the time we notify presenters of acceptance. If you desire projection, be sure to explain how you’ll use it in your abstract.
  • Presentation rooms have an easel and a small dry erase board as standard equipment.
  • Some presenters will bring several copies of a handout to pass around and then collect email addresses of those who would like a copy after the conference, which saves room in everybody’s suitcase and is environmentally friendly. We approve!

 
FAQ about Proposals for Papers, Lectures, and Presentations
What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?
Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 8, 2015. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

What is the proposal deadline?
May 15, 2015.

Do you accept all papers/presentations?
No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects the papers that will be accepted for Sirens.

If my paper is declined, can you tell me why?
Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my paper/presentation?
Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?
As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come?
If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 15, 2015, you do have the option of withdrawing. After that, we strongly encourage you to advertise on Twitter, Facebook, or on the message boards for a proxy reader: someone who will be attending Sirens and can read your paper in your place. In order to complete our schedule as quickly as possible—so that we have the necessary lead time to make arrangements for equipment, so that we can proofread and publish the final schedule, and so on—we do not keep a waiting list for presenters. And it’s always a disappointment to have to cancel your presentation.

Can I change the title of my paper later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?
If you provide us with the information before the paper is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary, as long as the focus of your paper is not substantially changed. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to your presentation, and it is earlier than May 15, 2015, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation, and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?
Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 9 or 10, 2015.

Do you “track” presentations?
We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter, to post on Facebook, and to check out our message boards to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

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

 
Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information
Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)
 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

 
Join Us for a Chat!
We’re hosting a chat on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas. Join us on Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during that time; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

We’ll also be holding chats on Twitter: Sirens will hold two Twitter brainstorming sessions for programming topics. The first will be held on March 28 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, and the second will be held on April 8 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Our Twitter account is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15.

Also, #SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras).
 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Two

See part one for general information on programming, including who can participate, how it’s selected, and where to find the information you’ll need to make a proposal.

Once you have an idea for a topic or two to present, you’ll need to decide on a format for your presentation. This post describes different presentation styles and offers some basic guidelines and tips for preparing proposals.

Sirens programming typically includes:

 
Papers, Lectures, and Presentations
You might have written an essay, a research paper, an article, or an in-depth blog post that could become the basis for a paper, lecture, talk, or presentation. Most of the time, you’ll need to do some research and reading, and at minimum, you’ll need to come with speaking notes for yourself, even if you choose not to write a more formal paper. If you have a lot of information to present to an audience, a paper/lecture/presentation is often the best presentation fit. It’s also a good presentation style choice for people who like to think things through in advance, and for people who like to organize and express their thoughts in writing or through reading. Analyses, research, comparisons, perspectives from literary and non-literary fields, theories, histories, arguments, deconstructions, critiques, and the like work well here.

Time allotted: 25 or 50 minutes for reading and any questions or discussion

A/V availability: Microphones will be provided. LCD projection will probably be available; however, projection is provided on a most-needed basis and not announced until after the final schedule is complete, so it’s best to plan your paper, lecture, or presentation as though you won’t be able to show slides, just in case. If you do wish to use projection, be sure to note in your abstract how and why you’d use it, so we can use that information when arranging equipment.

If projection is offered once the schedule is complete, you’re welcome to use it even if you didn’t request it.

Other considerations:

  • We don’t require you to write a paper, or to turn in your paper to Sirens, but we strongly encourage you to prepare a written document. It’s helpful to have some text even if you plan to wing it during your presentation and speak more informally. The paper will be eligible for inclusion and publication in the post-conference compendium.
  • Papers are usually written by a single author, but co-authors and author groups are welcome! At least one author must attend the conference to make the presentation.
  • Prepare for a 25- or 50-minute time block. If you include 5–10 minutes for questions and discussion following the presentation, that’s roughly 6–10 double-spaced pages (or 2000–3000 words) for the 25-minute block, and 10–15 double-spaced pages (or 3000–5000 words) for the 50-minute block.

 
Pre-empaneled Papers
If you and your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances have a set of papers, lectures, essays, or speeches, and you would like to offer these as a group (or you want to ensure that you present sequentially as part of the same time block), you may present these as pre-empaneled papers by submitting a single proposal. The information about papers above applies here as well. We encourage pre-empaneled papers to have a connecting theme—a particular author or series, depictions of female warriors in graphic novels, gender in fairy stories, subverted monster tropes, analyses of the childhoods of rebels and revolutionaries, and so on. Another idea might be to take on different approaches to the same subject, such as the application of different theories to the reading of a story, or different professional approaches and reactions to that story.

Time allotted: 50 minutes; however, sets of three or more papers may be allotted additional time

A/V availability: Microphones will be provided. LCD projection will probably be available; however, projection is provided on a most-needed basis and not announced until after the final schedule is complete, so it’s best to plan your paper, lecture, or presentation as though you won’t be able to show slides, just in case. If you do wish to use projection, be sure to note in your abstract how and why you’d use it, so we can use that information when arranging equipment.

If projection is offered once the schedule is complete, you’re welcome to use it even if you didn’t request it.

Other considerations:

  • One member of your group will make the initial proposal, and provide information about their own paper and the group’s overarching theme, if any; then, the other group members will be contacted for more information about their individual parts of the presentation.
  • The structure and use of the 50-minute period for reading and questions is up to the panel.
  • A set of pre-empaneled papers can have an active or an inactive moderator. An active moderator might lead a brief question-and-answer period for each paper, or ask questions of all of the panelists between their presentations. An inactive moderator might be the point of contact for the panel, and during the conference, she might just introduce each panelist and paper in turn. The moderator might make only a very brief statement on the topic and then introduce the panelists for longer speeches, or she might also act as a panelist and deliver her own lecture or paper.
  • We recommend that 2–3 papers, lectures, or presentations (or some combination) be included in a set of pre-empaneled papers. That gives you time to read your papers—or excerpts from your papers—and time for discussion. If you have three or more presenters, we will attempt to give you more time for your presentation than the 50-minute time block.

 
Panels
Panels are discussions among 3–5 people. For the most part, the panel’s moderator directs the discussion: they ask questions of the panelists and ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing; they ensure that each panelist has the chance to speak; they have plenty of provocative questions to ask to fill silences; and they keep everyone on topic and on time. The moderator is also the one to decide whether and when to take questions from the audience during the presentation. Panels are good choices for people who—though they’ll prepare in advance—like to share information through discussion, and they’re great choices for people who enjoy asking questions of and moderating a small group. Panels are best suited for gathering several people with shared experience in an area, for weighing pros and cons, for sharing very different viewpoints, for debating, and so on.

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: Microphones will be provided (panelists may have to share). Because the panel is focused on discussion, projection is less likely to be available than it might be for other types of presentations. You’re welcome to request it; however, please remember that LCD projectors are prioritized for presentations where visual examples are an integral part of the session. (If you need to have a lot of visuals, your group might prefer to propose a presentation; each person could provide a few minutes of information and discussion on your topic.)

Other considerations:

  • It’s okay to wrap up early if the panel comes to a natural stopping point, but the moderator and panelists should prepare for at least 35–40 minutes of discussion, with more time devoted to panelist discussion than audience questions.
  • Panels may have a large audience, but the majority of the discussion should be generated by the moderator and panelists, rather than drawn from audience questions. Panelists are the experts—the guests on the talk show. They should think about the panel topic in advance, make notes if necessary, and consider bringing their own questions for the other panelists. To put it another way, the strongest panels come from having prepared a good discussion to fill at least 2/3 of the time, and then letting the audience build upon the discussion with questions, rather than leaving the structure to the mercy of audience questions!

 
Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable discussions involve everyone at the presentation. In a roundtable discussion, the moderator comes prepared with a set of open-ended questions to be answered by the audience. The discussion is the purpose of the presentation; the moderator engages the audience members and directs the conversation. Roundtable discussions might work best when they’re constructed in such a way that an attendee doesn’t have to be an expert on the topic to participate; they seem to work best for broader topics, where attendees can offer up examples from many sources. (A good way of thinking about it might be that friendships in a specific set of books could become the basis for a good paper, and friendships in fantasy in general might work better for a roundtable.) This style of presentation can be a great choice for people who like to listen, but aren’t afraid to jump in to keep things on topic. Be prepared: Discussions can range from docile to very spirited! Roundtable discussions are well-suited to open-ended questions, subjective analyses, book/character explorations, and conversations where the audience’s knowledge and opinions are of highest importance.

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: No microphones or projection are provided for roundtables; these presentations are scheduled for smaller rooms and a limited audience. We do provide a small dry-erase board and marker.

Other considerations:

  • A roundtable discussion can have only one moderator. We’ve found that the discussions flow more easily when there is just one person acting as moderator, and that the discussions are much better received by the participants when they have only one person “in charge.”
  • We recommend preparing at least ten open-ended questions to fill a 50-minute block. You’ll probably find that this is plenty—your audience will often have questions of their own to pose—but you can, of course, prepare a few extras.
  • Roundtable discussions are designed to be like the discussion session of a big university class. We want these discussions to be very participatory, and we want everyone in attendance to have a chance to speak—and thus, we limit the audience to approximately 25 participants.
  • Moderators should bring along an extra copy or two of their proposed discussion questions. If time and space allow, volunteers will attempt to set up additional discussion sections on the fly if the originally scheduled discussion fills up.

 
Workshops
Workshop are instructor-led presentations, related to fantasy literature, designed to help the audience members walk away with new or expanded skills. As with roundtables, we want everyone who attends the presentation to be able to participate fully and to be able to ask questions and get individualized help, so the seating is limited. Workshops are good presentation choices for people who enjoy teaching and can break down a topic into components. Writing and art workshops, advice on setting up blogs/websites/reading lists, how to do something connected to fantasy (like understanding and writing horses, or using social media to promote your work in fantasy, and so on) and other hands-on activities are just a few ideas for workshops.

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: Considered on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to include and explain any A/V requests in your proposal.

Other considerations:

  • Team-taught workshops are welcome!
  • Instructors are responsible for acquiring any needed materials for workshops. To keep costs down for materials-heavy workshops, instructors might consider using one or two larger demonstration items, providing limited materials to be shared in small groups, or asking workshop participants to donate a small amount toward the cost of materials. If this will be your situation, please don’t hesitate to consult the programming team for estimating assistance in figuring out which will be the best option for you, as well as how to communicate requests to your workshop’s attendees.
  • To ensure that the instructors can assist all workshop attendees, the audience size is typically limited to a maximum of 40 attendees. (If your workshop doesn’t rely on materials, or if you’re not planning to give individualized feedback, there may be more seats available so as many people as possible can listen in.) Workshops may have as few as 25 seats available.

 
Afternoon Classes
Afternoon classes are a way to present topics of interest to fantasy readers that might not be directly related to readings of fantasy literature. Afternoon classes are especially suited to demonstrations and hands-on lessons. (There is some overlap between workshops and afternoon classes; please feel free to email us if you’re not sure which presentations style is the best fit.) Historical dress or music, dance, martial arts, weaponry, battle strategy, costume makeup, and similar topics are great options for afternoon classes, and if you know something about fencing, archery, falconry, or survival, those are oft-requested presentations. Afternoon classes are limited by the size of the space available, and by request, by materials. Please see the information about workshops, above, for general information.

Time allotted: 50 minutes; more time may be available during the evening break (please explain in your abstract if you expect the class to run a little longer)

A/V availability: Considered on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to include and explain any A/V requests in your proposal.

 
Combination Presentations
Most presentations, even if they make some use of multiple presentation styles, usually fall within one of the broad groups above. Combination presentations might take elements from two or more categories, and use them at length: a workshop might start out with a short paper on the topic, a paper might be followed by a panel, or a roundtable discussion might be followed with a hands-on workshop. You might also have a more formal offering that doesn’t fit neatly into the categories above, such as a screening of your original fantasy film paired with a talk on its production. The combination presentation option allows you to describe your presentation and its components.

If you’re considering this type of presentation, we encourage you to write to the programming team in advance; we often find that what’s planned for a presentation is in fact quite similar to what’s normally found in one of the presentation types listed above, and we can advise on which category might be best suited to your proposal. (We can help you save a little time, too, during the submissions process, by giving you information on what to include in your combination proposal.)

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: Considered on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to include and explain any A/V requests in your proposal.

 
Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information
Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)
 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

 
Join Us for a Chat!
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas. Join us on Monday, March 16, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those times; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

We’ll also be holding chats on Twitter: Sirens will hold two Twitter brainstorming sessions for programming topics. The first will be held on March 28 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, and the second will be held on April 8 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Our Twitter account is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15.

Also, #SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras).
 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part One

The deadline for proposals is May 15, 2015.

To help you prepare, we’ll explain our programming selection process (including any updates), discuss different types of programming commonly seen at Sirens, and show you how to put together a strong programming proposal. Here’s the first thing you should know:

Everyone who is eligible to attend Sirens is eligible to present at Sirens.

You have something to share.

Your voice is important.

While we don’t want to make you feel like you’re not important should you choose to participate from the crowd—perhaps by asking great questions, or participating in group discussions—or should you choose to be simply an active listener, we want to make it very, very clear that presenting is not just for published authors, or professors, or professionals. Our programming is designed, developed, and presented by attendees, because the perspectives and inquiries of attendees make for an exciting, relevant programming schedule. In fact, we prefer that our programming be presented by a mix of scholars, professionals, and fans. Readers, authors, moms, publishers, cousins, scientists, psychologists, friends, mathematicians, librarians, historians—and any other broad category you might be able to think of—all have interesting perspectives to share.

This year’s theme is rebels and revolutionaries, and we hope you’ll consider how that’s reflected in fantasy. We’ll also be happy to receive programming proposals more generally applicable to women in fantasy, and presentations might focus on particular authors, stories, or themes, related topics in gender studies and community, the business and enjoyment of books, and so on. For inspiration, take a look at what attendees have presented over the last six years.

 
Here are some quick facts and answers to frequently asked questions about programming for Sirens:

  • Proposals are accepted via our online system only and are due no later than May 15, 2015.
  • We have some guidelines for presentations so that we can create a coherent schedule that will fit in the time and space we have available.
  • Collaboration is encouraged! Except for roundtable discussions, where the participants need to have a single moderator, you’re welcome to make your presentation with another person or with several other people.
  • One or two presentations is usually a good maximum number of presentations for any one person. Likewise, one or two proposals is a good maximum number of proposals to submit.
  • Proposals are kept confidential by the vetting board.
  • Decisions will be made by June 8, 2015 so that you have the time you need to prepare.
  • You may submit a proposal even if you are not registered yet, but you must be registered by July 7, 2015, to confirm your participation if your proposal is chosen for Sirens.

 
You’ll Want to Know About…

The Call for Proposals
A call for proposals (or papers) formally sets out a conference’s theme, desired presentations, and presentation requirements. It also gives a brief overview of the process by which proposals will be selected.

 
Vetting Board
An independent vetting board will read all of the proposals and decide which proposals to accept for Sirens in 2015. We enlist a board to make sure that proposals are evaluated by people who have a strong collective knowledge of current trends, scholarship, events, and so on; we feel it is most fair to have proposals evaluated by a group of people who know and appreciate what you want to talk about.

 
Tips and Tricks

  1. Make sure you include all requested information when you make your proposal. (More on what to include is coming up in the next posts in the series.)
  2. If you’re working with collaborators—perhaps co-writing a paper, grouping together for a panel, or team-teaching a workshop—be sure to verify that your collaborators want to be part of the presentation before you submit it! Let them know that they’ll receive an email asking them to confirm their participation and to input their contact information and a short biography.
  3. You’ll receive all proposal and presentation communications via email. Please use one that you’ll have access to for all of 2015 and that you check regularly.

 
Join Us for a Chat!
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Monday, March 16, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 
Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstormMonday for ideas. We’ll hold two Twitter brainstorming sessions for programming topics. The first will be held on Saturday, March 28 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, and the second will be held on Wednesday, April 8 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.


 
Our next posts will describe different types of proposals; what to put in a biography, summary, and abstract; and posts simply for exchanging ideas and finding collaborators. If you have questions, we’re happy to receive them, here or via email.

 
Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)
 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 5 (March 2015)

In this issue:

 

REGISTRATION PRICE INCREASE
The next price increase for Sirens will happen on March 31, 2015.

It is currently $185, and jumps to $195 at the very end of March. Visit http://www.sirensconference.org/attend/ for more information or to register now.

Registrations for Sirens include access to all of our conference programming and events, including the keynote addresses by our guests of honor (and accompanying meals or receptions), as well as a conference T-shirt available only to attendees.

 

PROGRAMMING NEWS
Starting next week, we’ll be posting our annual guide to programming, with information applicable to all types of presentations. If you’d like to submit a programming proposal, we hope you’ll take a peek at our tips.

The deadline for programming proposals is May 15, 2015.

Offering opportunities to discuss and debate the remarkable work of women in fantasy literature is vital to Sirens, and the voices of our attendees—including your voice—are critical to those discussions and debates. Therefore, as you know, Sirens’s programming—the presentations, panels, roundtables, and workshops that make up most of our daytime schedule—is created, submitted and presented by our attendees, for our attendees. Our schedule can be as extraordinary as our collective brilliance, but also, as you might expect, when we receive more programming proposals, the Sirens conversation, and our programming schedule, becomes more diverse and more vibrant.

We know that presenting a programming topic isn’t for everyone, but we very much hope that, as you consider whether to do so, you know that your voice is essential, your thoughts are unique, and you are just as welcome to submit and present programming as anyone else attending Sirens. Please see the guidelines section of our website for more information on putting a proposal together. If you’re curious about past programming, check out our archive.

 

PROGRAMMING BRAINSTORMING!
If you’re looking for programming ideas—or you have ideas for programming you’d like to see others present—why not share them on Facebook or on Twitter using #SirensBrainstormMonday. Or why not come to one of our programming chats or Twitter brainstorming sessions? They are a great way find co-presenters or just think out loud.

Our first programming chat will be March 16 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here: http://www.sirensconference.org/chat/.

Our first Twitter programming brainstorming session will be March 28 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern; our Twitter is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15.

In the meantime, why not put together a proposal for one of the topics from #SirensBrainstormMonday, listed below? You can find more via the hashtag—and you can contact people other than @sirens_con if you might want to collaborate with them on a topic they’ve shared. (We didn’t want to give away any ideas you contributed to the hashtag here, just in case they were already in progress as proposals.)

  • Rebellious Reading Choices: Diversity, Representation, Revolution
  • That’s Logistics: Operations of a Successful Revolution
  • Covert Operations: Spies, Assassins, and Guerrillas in Fantasy Fiction
  • Rise Like a Girl: Hallmarks of Women-Led Revolutions
  • Whispers of Dragons from Across the Sea: Propaganda, Rumors, and Lies in Revolution
  • Writing as an Act of Revolution
  • Lessons Fantasy Literature Learned from The Art of War (or The Prince)
  • If I Only Had a Brain: The Role of Strategists and Tacticians in Revolution

 

2015 SIRENS READING CHALLENGE
As many of you know, each year Sirens posts a reading list featuring works by that year’s Guests of Honor and other thematic works by and about women in fantasy literature. The list generally tops 60 books, and we never thought of it as a reading challenge—more of a place to go to start with your thematic reading for the year.

But it turns out that you want a reading challenge—so now we have one! Each year, our staff reads widely in women in fantasy literature, partly within our theme and partly more broadly, and we’d love for you to join us. So we present the 2015 Sirens Reading Challenge. Just like our staff challenge, it’s 25 books, some that are required and some that you’ll select from a variety of lists. Finish it by September 12, and we’ll give you a special button at Sirens, suitable for gloating. Game on.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB
Sunbolt In our revolutionary year, why not join us in reading some revolutionary books? Each month leading up to Sirens, co-founder Amy will read a fantasy book, written by a woman, about revolutionary women—and will then post thoughts on our Goodreads group. This year, she has already read Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and for this month, Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani.

As Amy said in her review of Sunbolt, “Give me a disobedient girl who makes her own decisions, and I’ll give you a revolutionary.” Come read with us!

We also continue to post our weekly reading on our Sirens Twitter feed, using #FridayReads. We hope you’ll share with us what you’re reading; until we’re completely buried in our to-be-read pile, we’re looking for more recommendations!

 

GUEST OF HONOR SPOTLIGHT
Each year Sirens features a fantasy-related theme—and in 2015, that theme is rebels and revolutionaries. Women are revolutionary in countless ways, whether their interests lie in political, domestic, scientific, creative, or divine arenas. To further our discussion, we have invited three guests of honor, each of whom writes powerfully and provocatively about rebellion and revolution: Rae Carson, Kate Elliott, and Yoon Ha Lee. This month, we’d like to highlight Yoon Ha Lee.

ConservationofShadowsAVectorAlphabetofInterstellarTravelFAndSFClarkesworld

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.

For more information about Yoon, please visit Yoon’s website, blog, or Twitter.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

Obituary: We regret to hear of the passing of Suzette Haden Elgin (1936-2015).

The Finnish National Opera performs a ballet of Comet in Moominland.

Under the Radar spotlights Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, a collection of speculative feminist short stories featuring writers, illustrators, and editors from India and Australia.

Via Ellen Kushner (@EllenKushner): My Winter Queen Story: “The City in Winter.”

To the Best of Our Knowledge highlights African Genre Fiction.

Gender on The Mirror Empire and Ancillary Justice.

For Steampunk Hands 2015: The Raj Revised: Steampunking History.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announce the 2014 Nebula Award nominees!

A Webcomic About A Sworn Maiden, Raised As A Boy, And A Deadly Trial.

Colleen Atwood wins the Excellence in Fantasy Film award at this year’s Costume Designers Guild Awards.

Short film Oya, Rise of the Orisha, an African superhero film with two Black women protagonists, is available to stream.

Disney is launching a Latin-inspired Sofia the First spinoff.

 

Recent Releases:

2015MarchCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

February 10:
The Glass Arrow, Kristen Simmons
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch
Sword, Amy Bai

February 12:
Banished: Book One of The Grimm Laws, Jennifer Youngblood and Sandra Poole

February 17:
Unseen (Unborn Series #2), Amber Lynn Natusch
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy (Tales From Shadowhunter Academy #1), Cassandra Clare

February 23:
Mantle of Malice (The Tudor Enigma), April Taylor
Unicorn Seasons, Janni Lee Simner

February 24:
Who Needs Magic?, Kathy McCullough
A Wicked Thing, Rhiannon Thomas
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth, ed. Erika Eichenseer

March 1:
Prairie Fire (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim #2), E. K. Johnston

March 3:
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby
The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy #3), Shannon Hale
Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier
Flunked, Jen Calonita
Infinity Bell (House Immortal #2), Devon Monk
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (Fairyland #4), Catherynne M. Valente, ill. Ana Juan
The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2), Marie Rutkoski
Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk #5), Bec McMaster
Vision in Silver, Anne Bishop
The Storyspinner, Becky Wallace
Death Marked, Leah Cypess
Kin, Lili St. Crow

March 10:
Burning Kingdoms, Laura DeStefano
Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2), Rachel Hartman
The Orphan Queen, Jodi Meadows
Nightbird, Alice Hoffman
The Infinite, Lori M. Lee
The Exile, C. T. Adams

March 17:
Prudence, Gail Carriger
Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, Sheila Grau, ill. Joe Sutphin

March 24:
Catalyst, Lydia Kang
Half Wild, Sally Green
Shadow Study, Maria V. Snyder
The Walls Around Us, Nova Ren Suma
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, Paige McKenzie with Alyssa B. Sheinmel
In the Time of Dragon Moon, Janet Lee Carey
The Door in the Moon (Chronoptika #3), Catherine Fisher

March 31:
The Cemetery Boys, Heather Brewer
King (The Dragon King Chronicles #3), Ellen Oh
Sisters of Blood and Spirit, Kady Cross
Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent, Marie Brennan
The Lost Track of Time, Paige Britt, ill. Lee White
The Wicked Will Rise, Danielle Paige

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
We’re looking for 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 work with you to publish your critique right here in our 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.”

 

PropheciesLibelsDreamsProphecies, Libels, and Dreams: Stories
Ysabeau Wilce
Small Beer Press (Oct 2014)

Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams: Stories is a collection of seven tall tales and brief adventures from the brilliant Ysabeau Wilce. Fans, like myself, of Wilce’s Flora Segunda series, will quickly recognize the magical world of Califa represented here, but even readers who have never visited Califa before will be swept up in this dark, gritty, yet sparkling world. Califa is a thoughtful and highly original mash-up of modern California, the Wild West, Victorian Europe, and Mexican myth, among other cultures and times. The swash-buckling characters who inhabit this kaleidoscopic world are as magnetic as they are complex.

Take, for example, the devastatingly gorgeous Hard Hands, reluctant keeper of his small niece (and fiancée), Tiny Doom, a bouncing and mischievous young lady who attracts abundant trouble. Hard Hands wants nothing more than to conjure a bad-ass demon drummer, rock out in front of his adoring hoardes, and then ka-noodle with one of his lovers, but, much to his chagrin, Tiny Doom consistently lures him into misadventure and mayhem. As gruff and self-absorbed as he is loving and brave, Hard Hands is featured in four of these stories and frankly, I couldn’t get enough of him.

Although the Flora series was marketed as young adult, Wilce has brought Califa soundly into adult literature with this collection. Califa is rife with tarts, dandies, and demons of frightening lust and hunger. In the arid lands outside the city, there are re-animated corpses and monsters who terrorize the foolish or smug. Wilce has a background as a scholar of military history and has lived and traveled in many regions of the world. Her mastery of language and character is extraordinary and I highly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys their fantasy with some grit and intrigue. – Edith Bishop


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 6 (May 2014)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING DEADLINE: MAY 12
The deadline to submit programming proposals to Sirens is May 12, 2014. 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? Visit…

 

BRAINSTORMING RESOURCES
…our helpful recent posts on how to prepare a programming proposal, and check out—or add to!—the brainstorming post. Or come to the…

 

UPCOMING CHATS
We have two chats scheduled for talking about programming ideas, books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel companions and roommates: Sunday, May 4, and Sunday, May 11, both from 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern. You don’t need any special software or programs to participate; the page will turn into a chat room at the appropriate time. Join in at http://www.sirensconference.org/chat/.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB
One of Sirens’s chairs, Amy Tenbrink, is busily reading so many “hauntings and the haunted” books in preparation for October. Ghosts, specters, memories, visions, and other patterns show up across fantasy, horror, and non-genre fiction, and she keeps talking to us about them, so we thought she should talk to you, too! If you’d like to read along, the following books will be featured on the Sirens Goodreads Group in coming months.

May: Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina García
June: Imaginary Girls, Nova Ren Suma
July: The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo
August: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Cat Winters
September: The Woman in Black, Susan Hill
October: The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
Books and Breakfast will be held on Friday, October 17, and Saturday, October 18. For those of you who are new to Sirens, this is where we invite you to bring your own breakfast and join us for informal chats about books before presentations begin in the morning. It’s perfectly okay to join in Books and Breakfast if you haven’t read any of the books, but if you’d like to come prepared, the schedule is listed below.

This year, our reading list includes tales of hauntings and the haunted. Some of them are new, some of them were game-changing or controversial books, and some we just loved and wanted to share.

Friday, October 17, 2014
The Demon Catchers of Milan, Kat Beyer
The Diviners, Libba Bray
The Red Tree, Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Frangipani Hotel, Violet Kupersmith
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Long Lankin, Lindsey Barraclough
Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol
Comfort Woman, Nora Okja Keller
White Is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
My Real Children, Jo Walton

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Recent and Upcoming Releases:

May2014Collage
Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

 

Alpha Goddess, Amalie Howard (March 18)

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1), Danielle L. Jensen (April 1)
High Maga, Karin Rita Gastreich (April 4)
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, Ambelin Kwaymullina (April 8)
Thornlost (Glass Thorns), Melanie Rawn (April 29)
Sleep No More, Aprilynne Pike (April 29)
Silver Mirrors (Apparatus Infernum #2), A.A. Aguirre (April 29)

Mirror Sight, Kristen Britain (May 6)
Deep Blue, Jennifer Donnelly (May 6)
Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris (May 6)
Sparrow Hill Road, Seanan McGuire (May 6)
The Bees, Laline Paull (May 6)
Slightly Spellbound (A Southern Witch Novel), Kimberly Frost (May 6)
Witches in Red (The Mist-Torn Witches #2), Barb Hendee (May 6)
Fire Kin, M.J. Scott (May 6)
Only Everything, Kieran Scott (May 6)
A Creature of Moonlight, Rebecca Hahn (May 6)
The Falconer, Elizabeth May (May 6)

Of Neptune, Anna Banks (May 13)
Raging Star (Dust Lands #3), Moira Young (May 13)
Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule), Trudi Canavan (May 13)

Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, Michelle Tea, ill. Jason Polan (May 14)

Dangerous Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (May 20)
Sixth Grave on the Edge, Darynda Jones (May 20)
My Real Children, Jo Walton (May 20)
The Chronicle of Secret Riven, Ronlyn Domingue (May 20)
Fearful Symmetries, ed. Ellen Datlow (May 20)

Court of Conspiracy (The Tudor Enigma #1), April Taylor (May 26)

Air Bound, Christine Feehan (May 27)
Crown of Renewal (Paladin’s Legacy), Elizabeth Moon (May 27)
Strange Country, Deborah Coates (May 27)
Bad Luck Girl (The American Fairy Trilogy #3), Sarah Zettel (May 27)
Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising, Sarah Cawkwell (May 27)
Banishing the Dark (The Arcadia Bell series), Jenn Bennett (May 27)
The Lost, Sarah Beth Durst (May 27)
Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15), Jim Butcher (May 27)

The Girl with the Iron Touch, Kady Cross (May 28)

The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2), Richelle Mead (May 29)

 

Interesting Links:

An overview of convention-related speculative fiction awards.

The Ultimate Guide To This Summer’s Science Fiction and Fantasy TV.

Clips and concepts for Maleficent.

Catherine Lundoff on LGBT Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 1980s.

A case for strong Sansa Stark.

“The Man in the Woods” by Shirley Jackson.

The Diverse Editors List: a post-production essay by Bogi Takács.

Do you have exciting book news or fantasy links to share? Send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll include it in the next newsletter. We appreciate your contributions! Thanks for helping us expand this month’s news, and special thanks to Casey, Anne, and Sharon for their additions.

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY
Post a comment of at least two sentences on our blog or LiveJournal by May 20, 2014, and tell us which May release you’re most excited about and why. We’ll choose one lucky winner from the participants and contact them for a mailing address, and that person will win a copy of the book they chose. (U.S. addresses only, please!) Current Sirens staff members are not eligible to win, though they may leave a comment, but all volunteers, attendees, and I-wish-I-could-attendees are welcome to tell us their favorites.

 

APRIL AND MARCH GIVEAWAY WINNERS
Lina K. won the March book giveaway, choosing Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. LJ user theironchocho is April’s winner, choosing Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (please check out http://sirenscon.livejournal.com/57977.html to find out how to claim your book). Congratulations! Thank you to all the entrants.

 

RETURN OF THE REVIEW SQUAD
In the not-so-distant past, we had a review squad: volunteer readers reviewing books that they would recommend to others interested in women in fantasy. We’re pleased to bring back the review squad, and to feature their book reviews in the Sirens newsletter. The first review by thistleingrey appears below, and you’ll hear from other reviewers in the future.

If you think you could contribute a book review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, please visit the volunteer system and on the third page, where you are offered different volunteer team choices, indicate that you’d like to be a book reviewer in the section that says “Please tell us of any specific position you are interested in” (or let us know in any volunteer system text box—we’ll sort you out). Review squad volunteering is very flexible; we simply ask that you share information about books you’ve enjoyed. You can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, and on a schedule that works for you.

If you have recently volunteered, thank you! More information will be on its way shortly. If you’re with a publisher and are interested in providing review copies or similar, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org). On to this month’s reviews!

 

White Is for Witching (New York: Doubleday, 2009; print)
The Icarus Girl (London: Bloomsbury, 2005; OverDrive epub)
Helen Oyeyemi

Having signed up to review Helen Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching for the newsletter, I began reading The Icarus Girl for authorial context . . . and found that it fits this year’s theme of hauntings as well. Two for one.

TheIcarusGirl The Icarus Girl begins with an eight-year-old girl in a small confined space—a cupboard in the British sense, a linen closet in the US one—as she listens to her mother calling her from oddly far away. When Jess emerges, she realizes she’s been ensconced for half the day without noticing time’s passage. This realization is key yet easy for both Jess and the reader to forget, since Jess leaves almost immediately to visit her mother’s family in Nigeria for the first time. As she sidles uneasily around her mixed Nigerian and English heritage, her Nigerian cousins ignore her. Her grandfather watches the girl he calls Wuraola, but not closely enough: her curiosity about lit candles in a long-neglected wing of his small estate leads to a dangerous breakthrough, one that bends time and fractures Jess’s relationships, including her grasp of herself.

WhiteisForWitching Icarus is Oyeyemi’s debut novel (2005), written before she’d finished school. White Is for Witching is her third book and was published in 2009. Its UK title, Pie-kah, gives the reader clear expectations: the narrative revolves around a fraternal twin named Miranda, whose homophonic pica habit leads her to consume local Devon chalk instead of the apple pies baked by her father. The story’s multiple narrators are labeled at first, then left to pass narrative segments to each other silently, often mid-sentence. Perhaps the most important is the house, marked as “29 barton road” alongside fellow narrators “eliot,” Miranda’s twin, and “ore,” a key character introduced later. Miranda and Eliot’s mother died a few years before Eliot’s present time, which is not a spoiler, and indeed the story opens with Miranda’s subsequent disappearance, the house’s certainty that her location is known (to it), and Eliot’s concern that his strong wish to find his sister—to conjure her up from the air if need be—won’t suffice this time. From the reader’s perspective, White is a mystery whose large middle is to be undone, though one begins by disbelieving the house’s unreliable offer of a starting point: “what happened to lily silver,” the twins’ mother?

To read these two unrelated, psychologically complex novels together illuminates certain tensions that they share: the importance of place alongside the impossibility of understanding one’s personal origins, the points of slippage between views of reality, the uncertain power (too much, too little) of ritual observances. Are the hauntings here real or imagined, each narrative asks the reader, and to whom—or what—does the distinction matter?

Did I like the stories? I find Icarus creepily effective, not only in its nightmarish journey but especially in its conveyance of Jess’s several senses of (not) belonging; White for me is more clever than compelling. Both repay the time spent, certainly, and I mean to look for Boy, Snow, Bird. – thistleingrey


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 5 (April 2014)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING DEADLINE APPROACHING
The deadline to submit programming proposals to Sirens is May 12, 2014.

We look forward to receiving your proposals! If you’re still thinking about what to present, please join us for one of our upcoming chats (more information below) or check out this year’s brainstorming post. You can get an overview of how to put together a programming proposal on our website, and we’ve posted our annual programming series—a more informal approach to the same information—on our blog.

Looking for someone to join you as a presenter? Please post an ad on our Facebook, message boards, brainstorming post, or any LiveJournal or blog post.

If you’ve got your best idea (or two) ready to go, you’re welcome to submit it now.

As you probably already know, the programming at Sirens is created and presented by attendees. We think that involving everyone in the dialogue of the conference is critical, and that’s why our only presenter requirement is that you be old enough to attend. In the past, we’ve received excellent presentations from students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, readers, and teachers, among others. Please know that we value hearing from everyone—and if it interests you, it probably interests other attendees, too.

If you have any questions about programming, you can comment here or write to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

UPCOMING CHATS
We’re hosting two chats on our website to talk about programming ideas, travel plans, and the books we’ve been reading. Everyone is welcome! Please feel free to stop by for a minute or an hour. You don’t need to download anything or make an account, or have any special software for the chat, but you may need to refresh the page after the chat’s start time to participate.

Our chats are scheduled for:
Wednesday, April 2, from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern
Saturday, April 5, from 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

New and Recent Releases:

April2014Collage
Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

 

Gilded, Christina L. Farley (March 1)

Laura’s Wolf, Lia Silver (March 5)

The Violet Hour, Whitney A. Miller (March 8)

Promise of Shadows, Justina Ireland (March 11)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story, Vol. 1, Magica Quartet, Hanokage (March 25)

The Mark of the Dragonfly, Jaleigh Johnson (March 25)

The Stone Boatmen, Sarah Tolmie (April 1)

Dorothy Must Die, Danielle Paige (April 1)

The Frangipani Hotel, Violet Kupersmith (April 1)

West of the Moon, Margi Preus (April 1)

The Bird Eater, Ania Ahlborn (April 1)

Gilded Ashes, Rosamund Hodge (April 1)

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (April 1)

Dreams of Gods & Monsters, Laini Taylor (April 8)

Sea of Shadows, Kelley Armstrong (April 8)

Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories #4), Mary Robinette Kowal (April 8)

Horizon (Above World #3), Jenn Reese (April 8)

Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3), Elizabeth Bear (April 8)

The Collector of Dying Breaths, M. J. Rose (April 8)

Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor (April 10)

House of Ivy & Sorrow, Natalie Whipple (April 15)

The Forbidden Library, Django Wexler (April 15)

The Kraken King Part I: The Kraken King and the Scribbling Spinster (Iron Seas #4.1), Meljean Brook (April 15)

The Inventor’s Secret, Andrea Cremer (April 22)

Deception’s Princess, Esther Friesner (April 22)

The Islands of Chaldea, Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones (April 22)

Heaven’s Queen, Rachel Bach (April 22)

Peacemaker, Marianne de Pierres (April 29)

In the Shadows, Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo (April 29)

 

Interesting Links:

2014 Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalists.

Ursula K. LeGuin, Queen of America (and Ken Kesey Award winner).

Nahoko Uehashi (whose Moribito series has been a Books and Breakfast pick in the past) is on the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award shortlist, and was named as one of two winners.

Sailor Moon 20th anniversary site (maybe you read this for Books and Breakfast?).

Misfits of Avalon, the comic.

Fantasy Book Cafe is hosting Women in SF&F Month again this April.

Sarah Rees Brennan writes a poem about recognition for women’s writing.

Do you have exciting book news or fantasy links to share? Send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll include it in the next newsletter. We appreciate your contributions! Thanks for helping us expand this month’s news. Special thanks to Kate and Casey for their additions.

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY
Post a comment of at least two sentences on our blog or LiveJournal by April 18, 2014, and tell us which April release you’re most excited about and why. We’ll choose one lucky winner from the participants and contact them for a mailing address, and that person will win a copy of the book they chose. (U.S. addresses only, please!) Current Sirens staff members are not eligible to win, though they may leave a comment, but all volunteers, attendees, and I-wish-I-could-attendees are welcome to tell us their favorites.

 

MARCH’S GIVEAWAY WINNER
No one entered the March giveaway, so no winner has been named. (We’d say that future entrants may find the odds are highly in their favor.) That said, the March giveaway is open until April 4, so that’s a hint.


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.

 

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Archives

2018
October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2017
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2016
December, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March

2015
November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2014
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, March, February, January

2013
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2012
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2011
December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2010
December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2009
December, November, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

 

Tags

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