A Whole New Year
Can you believe that it’s already 2011? We can’t! That’s only four months (and a little bit) to have your programming proposal submitted and only nine months (and a little bit) until Sirens. Our new year’s resolution? Get through the Sirens reading list before the conference!
We’ll get to books below, but let’s talk about programming first. If you’ve attended Sirens in the past, you know that the conference programming–all those wonderful presentations and panel debates and discussions–depends on attendee participation. While we create the schedule, events, and the conference as a whole, the presentations–the papers, panels, workshops, roundtable discussions, and afternoon classes–are presented by you. If there’s a topic you’d like to see on the schedule, design it–and then propose it, or nudge someone else to do so or to join you as a co-presenter. (You can even use the Tell a Friend feature to send a note via e-mail or use our message boards to brainstorm or find a collaborator.)
Start with a few big ideas: Sirens focuses on women in fantasy–as authors, as readers, as artists, as professionals, as characters of interest in fantasy works–so connect your presentation to this overarching idea. The 2011 theme is “monsters,” and we encourage you to dig into, analyze, and deconstruct the idea of women as monsters, so presentations related to the theme are of special interest, but in no way does your presentation have to be about monsters. You can get a sense of timelines and information you need to prepare on the call for proposals page. Proposals will be accepted until May 7, 2011.
Keep an eye out here for insider tips for preparing a proposal. We’ll start programming-focused posts on LiveJournal in February.
The next chat will be on February 12, 2011. We’ll make it a combined chat: lots of book talk, and lots of programming brainstorming talk. Questions welcome!
Date: February 12
Time: 3:00 p.m. Eastern/noon Pacific
You don’t need any special software or programs to participate; the page will turn into a chat room at the appropriate time. (You may need to refresh the page.)
The Narrate CafePress store has new Sirens merchandise for sale–and haven’t you always wanted a monster water bottle? (Our team is presently debating whether this is a water bottle for monsters or a bottle with monster water.) Also, you can buy reading list books through our links to independent bookseller The Tattered Cover, which recently added Google eBooks to their offerings. Some proceeds from using these links are returned to Narrate Conferences, which we put back into funding Sirens. Check out our page here.
We’re Excited About…
We’re adding a new feature to our newsletter highlighting new and cool things related to Sirens. Do you have a fantasy book release in February? Will you have a short story out next month? Did you just sell your first novel? Does it have to do with women in fantasy in some way? Send your preferred name, a sentence or two about your news, and any important dates or links to (hallie at sirensconference.org) or leave us a comment, and we’ll feature you in next month’s newsletter.
In the meantime, this month, we’re super-excited about:
- Slice of Cherry, Dia Reeves’s new book about Portero. If you haven’t read her first book, Bleeding Violet, what are you waiting for? Hanna, our heroine, shows up in Portero, Texas, talking to her dead father, about to meet her mother for the first time. Hanna, mentally ill, is strong, stubborn, clever and amazing–and she’ll need all of her wit and resourcefulness, since Portero is the new and improved Hellmouth. Bleeding Violet is a wild ride, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Slice of Cherry, also set in Portero. (Warning: Definite triggers in Bleeding Violet for self-harm.) –Amy
- Sapphique, the sequel to Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, came out in the U.S. on December 28. Now I can strongarm more people into reading this fascinating dystopian YA duo that is both fantasy and science fiction. –Hallie
- 2011 Guest of Honor Justine Larbalestier received the 2009 Carl Brandon Kindred Award, given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity by the Carl Brandon Society. Read more about the award, other awards, and winners here. –Hallie
- Colorado author Hilari Bell’s new series, Trickster, is out this month. The Enchanted Inkpot LiveJournal community has an interview with the author here. –Sabrina
Sirens Review Squad
Please welcome thistleingrey and Jazz Sexton as guest reviewers for 2011. Keep an eye out here for their features on the Sirens reading list and other books.
Conference Planning Corner
We also wanted to add a monthly feature where we answer your questions about conference planning. Why is Sirens set in Vail? Why did we move to buffet meals in 2010? How many books do we read a year, anyway? If you have questions, whatever they may be, about Sirens and our planning process, please send them to (help at sirensconference.org). And in the meantime, let’s talk about Colorado, Vail, retreats, and altitude.
When we were designing Sirens, we were looking to create a retreat: a place where people could relax, certainly, but particularly a place where women could escape the expectations placed on them by the world at large. We wanted a safe space where people could engage in lively discussions, but also leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the world.
For us, that meant that we needed to find an escape. We considered locations in large and even mid-sized cities, of course. (Our two conferences prior to Sirens were set in New Orleans and Chicago!) But setting a conference in a city comes with a wealth of (yes, fun!) distractions: great places to eat; lots of museums, arts and sporting events; alternate hotels; and so forth. To us, that looked like a blast, but not necessarily relaxing and, in a lot of ways, even detrimental to forming a community at Sirens. If our attendees are all out sightseeing, what happens to the lively discussions that are so much a part of Sirens?
So we looked elsewhere, smaller places, sometimes off the beaten path. We considered lots of locations, from upstate New York to the dunes of South Carolina, the north woods of Minnesota to the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the deserts outside Tempe to the wilds of the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. It was a lovely exploration of some of the best of America, actually, and you might still see some of these places for future Sirens.
But Vail won, at least for our first three years, for lots of reasons. Denver is a major airline hub, and its central location means that people from the east coast, the west coast and everywhere from Minnesota to Texas can get here in a couple hours. It’s small enough to have a centralized airport system, as opposed to, say, New York or even Los Angeles, which makes it possible for us to offer the Sirens Shuttle. The scenery is gorgeous, so the trip from the airport can be awe-inspiring, and we know that many people find a weekend high in the Rockies to be relaxing in just the way that we wanted.
And, of course, Sirens is presented by Narrate, a Colorado company. Sirens is a local conference for us, and something we can offer people who live in the middle of the country. We are exempt from sales tax in Colorado, which brings our costs down significantly (not only is catering taxed, the catering service charge is taxed!), and several members of our team live in Colorado, which also brings our costs down significantly (no shipping!). The Rocky Mountains also come with an off-season, which a lot of resorts in sunnier climates don’t have, which helps us reduce our costs even further. For a start-up conference, cost management is essential to success–and being able to continue offering Sirens in future years. To be honest, moving Sirens out of Colorado will probably increase our costs 20%, and finding a way to make that up, either through reduced expenses or additional registration or donation revenue, is a challenge.
But the altitude, you say! Oh, we know. We live here! The altitude can be tough, but it’s also manageable for most people. Did you know that most airplane cabins are pressurized at about Vail’s elevation? Did you also know that many of the issues that people attribute to altitude–headaches, tiredness, insomnia–usually result from dehydration? When our families and friends visit, we greet them at the airport with Gatorade and aspirin. And then we tell them to slow down, take a nap, sit on the porch and watch the scenery for a while, read a book–and relax already!
And that’s why we started Sirens in Vail. Sirens won’t necessarily stay in Vail, but we’ll be there at least for 2011. And we have lots of tips and tricks for managing both travel and the altitude, so if you have concerns, please e-mail us at (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll pass them along!
Have questions? You can leave them here in the comments section or e-mail them to (help at sirensconference.org).