Critical Sirens Update

Due to delays in the renovation of the Hotel Talisa in Vail, Sirens is moving to the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek for our 2017 conference. Attendees will need to make new hotel reservations at the Park Hyatt as soon as possible. Please click here for reservations and other information about this relocation.

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

The 2017 Studio will feature eight intensives, all led by extraordinary faculty on topics related to reading, writing, and career development. Studio participants will be able to attend half of those intensives—assuming, of course, that you aren’t sleeping in, lingering over breakfast in bed, or stuck in a book you can’t put down.

The cost of the Studio is $50 for the full two days of the Studio, and we are limiting attendance to 50 participants. Please take a look at our schedule, intensives, and faculty below.

Please note that the Sirens Studio is an optional, pre-Sirens event that requires a separate ticket. While you must be a Sirens attendee to join us for the Studio, Sirens attendees will not have access to the Studio intensives or other programs without that separate ticket. The Sirens Shuttle will be available on the evening of Monday, October 23, to facilitate attendees’ transportation to the Hotel Talisa in time for the Studio.


Tuesday, October 24, and Wednesday, October 25

Both Tuesday and Wednesday will begin with optional exercise or meditation time, followed by custom-made smoothies and a bit of down time. From 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each day, we’ll offer two-hour workshop intensives led by our faculty: reading intensives from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., and then writing and career development workshops from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All Studio attendees are welcome to attend any intensives that they wish, regardless of whether they are reader, writer, or professional—or scholar, farrier, general, dragon-master, or queen.

At 1:00 p.m., we’ll break for lunch (on your own, though you’re welcome to join members of our conference staff and Studio faculty, if you like). Beginning at 2:00 p.m., we’ll have flexible time; you’re welcome to join us in designated quiet or discussion rooms, spend time at the pool or in the spa, or find a solitary place to read, write, or work.

On Tuesday, at 6:00 p.m., you’re welcome to meet us for dinner (also on your own), and at 9:00 p.m., we’ll be showing a fantasy-themed film. On Wednesday, you’re welcome to have dinner on your own or join others.

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

Workshop Intensives

Tuesday, October 24
  • Reading Intensive
    Everything and the Kitchen Sink: Tracing Lineages of Fantasy Literature
    9.00 a.m.
    Suzanne Rogers Gruber
    In How to Suppress Women’s Writing, Joanna Russ identifies “false categorizations” as one means of denying works or authors the credit they are due. These works (and their authors) are misclassified as a means of denying recognition, representation, and a place in the canon. But fantasy, as a genre, is notoriously difficult to define precisely, and those blurry boundaries allow authors to draw from an even wider range of influences as they create new works. Using The Cambridge Guide to Fantasy Literature as a starting place, and consulting criticism by Russ, Mendelsohn, and others, we’ll trace the history of women’s fantasy from fables and folk tales, religious traditions, early Gothics, Victorian fantasies, 20th century mysteries and romance novels, and yes, Tolkien, with particular attention to works less often recognized as direct influences on the genre. We’ll discuss whether the broad scope of “fantasy” as a genre allows more space for the works that would otherwise be subject to false categorization, or if the same rules for suppression apply.

  • Reading Intensive
    Writer as Reader
    9.00 a.m.
    Victoria Schwab
    It’s no surprise that most authors consider reading an integral part of their creative process, but how exactly does it nourish us? This workshop will explore the value of creative input for creative output, the value of reading broadly as well as deeply, and why we should consider reading not only part of our process, but part of our job.

  • Career Intensive
    Know Your Next Step: Navigating Career Pathways and the Leadership Pipeline
    11:00 a.m.
    Joy Kim
    Where do you see yourself in five years? Even if you love your current job, it’s important to think about where you want to be in the future and what you can be doing now to get there—no one else is going to figure it out for you. In this workshop, we’ll discuss some concrete steps you can take to prepare for the best (such as an unexpected advancement opportunity) or the worst (such as layoffs and firings). Learn about the realities of holding a management or leadership position, and find out what your manager probably wishes they could tell you about career advancement.

  • Writing Intensive
    Making Magic
    11:00 a.m.
    B R Sanders
    Magic can be power. Magic can be escape. Magic can be anything you want it to be in your story. It can be an act, a trait, a job, a crime, or a commodity. It all depends on the world you build around it. In this workshop, we’ll dive into the nuts and bolts of crafting magical systems. We will think about how magic touches other elements of worldbuilding—ecology, sociology, economy, diplomacy—so that the magic in the worlds we create is an embedded and dynamic.

Wednesday, October 25
  • Reading Intensive
    Rewriting Rogue One: Narratives That Explore Complex Relationships Between Women
    9:00 a.m.
    Kate Elliott
    My biggest disappointment with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the way it threw away a chance to leave Jyn’s mother alive and explore a complex, fraught, and fractious relationship between a mother and adult daughter. In this workshop, we’ll discuss how books often ignore or minimize relationships between women in favor of those between men or between men and women. And we’ll highlight books that succeed in showing complex relationships of all kinds—kinship, friendship, community, adversarial, and professional—between women.

  • Reading Intensive
    Reading Past the White Veil: Identifying Issues of Race in Fantasy and Science Fiction
    9:00 a.m.
    Zoraida Córdova
    Most of us like to read for enjoyment or to escape the problems of the real world. So what happens when problematic racial tropes infuse fantasy and science fiction? In this workshop, participants will learn to read closely for matters of race, as well as how to identify popular and enduring race based tropes and understand why these ideas influence real world issues, even when used in a fantastical context. Participants should come ready to read, discuss, and have fun while dismantling white supremacy!

  • Career Intensive
    Making Time and Finding Purpose in Your Busy Life—What’s Holding You Back?
    11:00 a.m.
    Mette Ivie Harrison
    When you’re trying to do a million things, it can help to remind yourself that you have one purpose, and we’ll talk about how to define that. But what about when you’re sabotaging yourself with unhealthy beliefs about your work? Your work matters and you’re allowed to say no to other people’s projects so that you have more time for your own. You can work in small chunks of time if that’s what you’ve got. And what’s that about talent? Doesn’t matter. It’s your determination that will give you success, every time.

  • Writing Intensive
    Writing What Scares You
    11:00 a.m.
    Kiini Ibura Salaam
    Delve into this exploratory workshop about facing the topics you’re terrified to write about. Participants will explore the reason why we keep certain topics at bay, see how the workshop leader turned a topic she was afraid to write about into publishable fiction, and then face a few fears of their own with a writing exercises designed to test the waters of the ideas that scare you most. Suggested reading before the event: Writers as Exhibitionists: Why Tell All and Hayley Kiyoko Finds Her Voice.


Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy, which centers around Tristan, who discovers his heritage and is thrown into a battle going on beneath the ocean, fighting for his future, his friends, and his life. Her other works include the On the Verge series, which is about 20-something-year-old-girls searching for love and the meaning of life, and Labyrinth Lost, about Alex, a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation who hates magic so much that she performs a spell to rid herself of her power. Zoraida loves black coffee and snark, and still believes in magic. She is a contributing writer to Latinos in Kid Lit because #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Zoraida studied at Hunter College and the University of Montana in Missoula.

Kate Elliott writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, all with a romantic edge. Kate’s most recent work, the Spiritwalker trilogy (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel), is an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency adventure fantasy with airships, sharks, and lawyer dinosaurs. Kate completed the Crossroads trilogy (Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, Traitors’ Gate), which is an “HBO-style” fantasy with a focus on character and landscape, and an epic plot. Kate also wrote the seven-volume epic fantasy series Crown of Stars, set in an alternate European landscape where magic has been (literally) woven through the land. The first volume, King’s Dragon, was a Nebula Award finalist in 1998. Set in a speculative future, the Novels of the Jaran follow the nomadic people known as the jaran after their first contact with the technologically more advanced society of Earth. Kate co-wrote the bestselling fantasy novel The Golden Key with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson, a 1997 World Fantasy Award finalist. The Very Best of Kate Elliott is a short story collection, and Black Wolves is volume one of a new epic fantasy series about an exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection. Court of Fives is a young adult novel about an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege (its sequels are Poisoned Blade, which is already out, and Buried Heart, expected to be published in July 2017).

Suzanne Rogers Gruber lives on the edge between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains and has been making things up since she was a small girl in upstate New York. She is currently a communications manager, information specialist, and librarian; in the past, she worked in publishing, commercial photography, and tech before spending several years as a freelance editor and designer. She has an MLIS from San Jose State University and a BA in literary studies from Simon’s Rock College of Bard. In her free time, she writes fantasy and science fiction, knits, gardens, and hikes with her family and their two dogs. Suzi has volunteered in a variety of roles, most recently as librarian.

Mette Ivie Harrison is the critically acclaimed author of eight young adult books, including Mira, Mirror and The Princess and the Hound series. In 2014, she published her first adult novel, a mystery entitled The Bishop’s Wife, about a Mormon bishop’s wife who is drawn into solving crime when a young wife and mother in her ward goes missing. His Right Hand, book two of that series, is about a transgender ward member who is found dead in the church building. Book three, For Time and All Eternities, is about an independent polygamous group where Linda is called to investigate a murder. Mette writes a regular blog about faith and Mormonism at Huffington Post. Mette holds a PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University and is an All-American triathlete. She lives in Utah with her husband and five living children. She is an active, practicing member of the Mormon church.

Joy Kim lives in western Washington, where she manages five locations and community outreach and engagement initiatives for a public library system. Her experience includes chairing book award and selected list committees, reviewing for Kirkus, and working in nonprofit book publishing. In her free time, she can generally be found reading her overdue library books, trying new recipes, and training for her next half marathon.

Kiini Ibura Salaam is a writer, painter, and traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work encompasses speculative fiction, erotica, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Kiini’s writing is rooted in eroticism, speculative events and worlds, and women’s perspectives. Her speculative fiction has been included in publications such as Dark Matter, Mojo: Conjure Stories, Dark Eros, FEMSPEC,,, and Her first short fiction collection, Ancient, Ancient, was co-winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2012; a collection titled When the World Wounds was released in 2016. Kiini’s creative nonfiction speaks to her two passions: the freedom of women and the freedom of the creative spirit. In essays about date rape, sexual harassment, and the power of the word “no,” Kiini explores the complex layers of societal norms that negatively impact women’s lives. These essays have been published in Essence, Ms., and Colonize This! Her creative nonfiction has been included in college curricula in the areas of women’s studies, anthropology, history, and English. For the past ten years, Kiini has written the KIS.list, an e-column that explores the writing life and encourages readers to fulfill their dreams. She works as an editor and copyeditor in New York.

B R Sanders is a white, genderqueer speculative fiction writer who lives and works in Denver, Colorado, with their family and two cats. Outside of writing, B has worked as a research psychologist, a labor organizer, and a K–12 public education data specialist.

Victoria Schwab (also known as V. E. Schwab) is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Her first young adult novel, The Near Witch, is a dark original fairy tale and her next one, The Archived, is about a world where the dead are shelved like books (and has a sequel, The Unbound). Victoria’s first adult novel, Vicious, is about two brilliant and highly disturbed pre-med students who set out to generate their own superpowers and end up as mortal enemies; the series will continue with Vengeful, expected to be published in 2018. Vicious received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which named the novel one of its best books of 2013 for SF/Fantasy/Horror, and the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association awarded it the top fantasy book in their 2014 Reading List. The first book in her Shades of Magic series, A Darker Shade of Magic, is about Kell, a magician who can move through multiple versions of London, and Lila, the pickpocket who steals a talisman that could end them all (its sequels are A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light). Most recently, Victoria published her Monsters of Verity Duology, This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet. When she’s not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, Victoria’s usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters. She loves fairy tales, folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.
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