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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 3, Issue 11 (September 2011)

PLEASE HELP US OUT! A number of you have been finding important e-mails from Sirens in your bulk folder rather than in your inboxes. Please check your bulk mail, unmark the items as bulk, and help us retrain e-mail providers. Thank you in advance!

 

Registration and Shuttle Ticket Deadline
Registration for Sirens, including registration for the Sirens Shuttle and Sirens Supper, ends on September 7, and all payments are due no later than September 17, even if this means you have fewer than the usual 30 days to complete your payment. Any registrations or tickets that are still unpaid on September 17 will be canceled. We will only have a handful of first-come, first-served on-site registrations available–and as we can’t hold them for any particular potential attendee, we strongly recommend registering in advance!

 

Hotel Reservation Deadline
All reservations for the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa must be made no later than September 15, 2011, and on that date, you must confirm your reservation by paying for one night of your stay. (If you use a credit card to make your reservation, the Vail Cascade will automatically charge your card at that time.) You may not cancel your reservation after September 15 without a penalty. Please note the dates! Room rates for 2011 are $129/night for 1-2 people ($154/night for 3-4). In case you have time to stay a day or two extra, that rate is good from October 3 until October 11.

Need a roommate or three to help reduce your costs? Check out the hotel section of the Sirens forums. You may also post an ad on the Sirens Facebook. We know of multiple people who are looking for roommates as of this week, so please don’t be shy if you haven’t posted something yet–you’re not the only one looking!

 

Sirens Shuttle
The Sirens shuttle will leave Denver International Airport (airport code: DEN) at 3:30 p.m. on both Wednesday, October 5 and Thursday, October 6, and returning at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 9. If you’ll be riding any of these shuttles, please watch your e-mail–especially your bulk folder!–about a week in advance for final instructions, including the meetup point. If you have not provided us with your flight information, please log in to your reservation and do so as soon as possible. We set up flight alerts to keep track of riders in the air!

 

We’re Excited About: Checking In at Sirens
We’ll focus a section of next month’s newsletter on picking up your registration at Sirens, but in the meantime, we wanted to spread the word that the information desk, registration, and badge pick-up for Sirens will be in a different location this year. Starting at 2:00 p.m., we’ll be open in the Creekside Room on the lower level of the Vail Cascade. To get to the Creekside Room, take the stairs down from the hotel’s front desk, or take the elevator from the lobby (near the restrooms and concierge). While we won’t be able to spill out into the library this year, we’ll have access to the patio and pool area, just steps from Gore Creek. This is the one space in the Vail Cascade that we think is a bit harder to find, but the hotel front desk assures us that they’ll be ready to point you in the right direction.

Between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the Creekside Room, we’ll be happy to provide you with your badge and registration materials, collect digital versions of presentation materials from presenters, verify your volunteer shifts, feed you afternoon tea, provide you with space to chat/read/play games, and offer you Sirens 2011 merchandise. We’ll also set aside a corner of the room for storing luggage until the hotel’s check-in time of 4:00 p.m.

Once the Thursday Sirens Shuttle arrives, and attendees have had a chance to grab a snack and pick up registrations, we’ll close down and set up a temporary information desk outside of the Cascade Ballroom, where we’ll hold a cheese and dessert reception followed by Justine Larbalestier’s keynote presentation. If you arrive later that evening, you can proceed directly to the Cascade Ballroom. Then, starting Friday morning, the official Information Desk will be in the foyer outside the Rocky Mountain Ballroom on the first floor of the conference center, where most of the programming will take place.

 

Support
If you can’t make it this year, please consider purchasing a supporting registration. This support helps us present Sirens this year and offer Sirens in future years, and you’ll receive a 2011 program book following the conference. Supporting registrations cost $50; $35 of each supporting registration is a donation to Sirens, and because our parent organization, Narrate Conferences, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, that amount is eligible for tax deduction in the United States. (The other $15 covers a program book for the donor and our mailing costs.)

 

Volunteer
If you’ll be attending Sirens, we could use a few extra hands! Please visit the Volunteers page and fill out the volunteer form. You’ll be invited to join a Google Group for occasional information e-mails, and scheduled to help at Sirens.

Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities. If you’re a presenter who feels confident in managing the room while presenting, you may volunteer to monitor the shift that overlaps your presentation. Most volunteer shifts are low-key, and nearly all of them are within waving distance of the Information Desk should you encounter a problem and need help.

 

Books and Breakfast
As a reminder, at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, October 7, and Saturday, October 8, you’re welcome to join us for informal discussions of the books listed below. You’ll need to bring your own breakfast (and the hotel will be pleased to make you a latte and a bagel in the Marketplace).
Friday: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, In the Forests of Serre by Patricia McKillip, Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, and Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Saturday: Chime by Franny Billingsley, Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Racing the Dark by Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

A frequently asked question: Do I have to have read one of these books to attend Books and Breakfast? The short answer is no; you’re welcome to join a group just to listen and to have some breakfast companions. We think, however, that Books and Breakfast is more enjoyable if you’ve read one of the books being discussed!

 

Afternoon Teas–and Autographs!
On Friday and Saturday of Sirens, we’ll have a break in the schedule for you to have a cup of tea and, we hope, interesting conversations with each other, with authors, and our local-to-Vail independent bookstore, The Bookworm of Edwards. It’s a great time to browse for new things to read and to get books signed by attending authors.

If you’re an attending author and would like to have your books on hand to be signed at Sirens, please let us know by e-mailing your author name and your books to (help at sirensconference.org). We’ll pass your information on to The Bookworm of Edwards.

 

Monster Mash
After a weekend of intense discussion, we’ll take a break on Saturday evening for the Monster Mash. Starting at 8 p.m. in the Cascade Foyer and Ballroom, we’ll spin some tunes, open the dance floor, and offer you the chance to participate in our annual murder mystery, which runs until the culprit is found. You’re welcome to come and participate in street clothes or your favorite monster wear. A cash bar will be available.

Do you have a request for the music playlist? Please send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll pass it on to the playlist organizer.

 

Sirens Review Squad
Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 3)
Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic, 2011

Forever is Maggie Stiefvater’s final installment in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. As always, Stiefvater offers complex characters. Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole are the perfect quartet for epitomizing the teenage condition. They come from pasts of abuse and neglect, and all of them embody a different reaction to that treatment. Sam and Grace find comfort in each other, mutual respect, and the courage to face demons they chose to ignore in the past. Sam and Grace have a cool relationship, while Isabel and Cole meet with a dangerous passion. They don’t like to let people in, which makes them hard to love, but able to understand each other on levels no one else can. Unfortunately, the Isabel and Cole dynamic falls a bit short at the end when Stiefvater chooses to leave loose ends a little too loose in order for the story to feel complete.

Stiefvater tackles the subject of mental illness with Shelby, a girl with a history of torturing animals and the murder of a teenage girl (performed while Shelby is a wolf). The treatment of a girl with mental illness is not the most sensitive. Rather than Shelby being portrayed as character the audience should sympathize with, she is a clear villain in the story. It is really only through Sam’s occasional defense of her, and his own meditation on how he was manipulated by his father, that we see Shelby is a victim. That’s not to say this excuses her behavior–it doesn’t–but the audience shouldn’t be told to dislike Shelby just because she is ill.

The treatment of Shelby seems odd when the overarching theme of Forever is redemption. The adult and teenage characters navigate their ways through unresolved personal demons and selfishness to build authentic human connections and put aside anger in order to forgive one another. Isabel stands out as the character with the most development. She spent three books as an ice queen, but proves herself at the climax of the novel by putting herself in the line of fire for the wolves.

Relationships aren’t the only thing is this book, of course. Forever is a soft sci-fi novel. These werewolves transform into wolves in cold seasons when the temperature is low enough. That means months of being away from human contact without any way to explain yourself. It’s a point of contention throughout the entire series, and seeing the characters deal with it is endearing and fascinating. Cole’s drive to find a cure for lycanthropy is addictive to read. If you’re a werewolf fan, you’ll find the Wolves of Mercy falls a fresh approach to the myth.

The most noticeable problem with Forever is that nothing actually seems like it is going to last forever. In the final chapters, the relationships feel ephemeral and uncertain. I feel the fault lies in the title, and not the text. Stiefvater’s text does what it sets out to do–it rounds out plots and character arcs established in the first two books, portrays multi-faceted characters, and, most importantly I feel, is a love story about people who treat each other as equals. That’s a rare find. I recommend the series as a whole, but know that Forever doesn’t quite have the oomph to be a satisfying ending. —Jazz


Have questions? Please ask them here or write to (help at sirensconference.org).

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