This is the official newsletter for Sirens, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The newsletter is published once a month to the Sirens News page, message boards, mailing list, LiveJournal, and Facebook. Certain other updates are posted on the conference’s Twitter.
Volume 4 – Issue 2
We’ve noticed that the Sirens community is very much just that: a community of people who want ways to help each other, and sometimes that help comes in the form of financial support that allows others to attend Sirens. We’re happy to be able to help make this easier logistically, and to announce that you can now purchase Sirens gift certificates.
All you need is a name and an e-mail address to give a gift certificate. Gift certificates can be purchased in any amount. When you purchase your gift certificate, we create the gift certificate in a PDF and send it, depending on your wishes, to either you or your recipient–and we know that sometimes it’s about the gift and not the giver, so gift certificates can be given anonymously.
The fine print: Gift certificates purchased between now and next October can be used only for 2012 Sirens registrations, and for Sirens Supper and Sirens Shuttle tickets for 2012 once those tickets are available. Like the registrations and tickets, the gift certificates are non-refundable, but can be transferred. Because the gift certificates are for Sirens attendance, your recipient must be 18 years old as of October 10, 2012. Please note that gift certificates purchased now are only good for Sirens in 2012 and don’t roll over to other years; they’ll expire in October.
For more information and to purchase gift certificates, please check out our gift certificate page. If you have questions, just shoot them to our registration team at (registration at sirensconference.org).
Programming in 2012
It’s never too early to start thinking about programming proposals. The presentations on the Sirens conference schedule are drawn from proposals generated by attendees. Since our 2012 theme is “tales retold,” we of course welcome proposals on topics related to that theme and presenters are invited to explore fantasy based on extant stories. Presenters are not limited to this theme, however, and proposals that address specific aspects of a work or series, works related by other themes, and studies of the fantasy genre across all disciplines are encouraged as well. A non-exhaustive list of sample topics includes literary analyses of novels; studies of genre history; use of fantasy works in schools and libraries for education; examination of related business and legal issues; media and fan studies; craft-based workshops in writing, art, and publishing; and overviews of how fantasy works fit into larger contexts.
The proposal deadline is May 6, 2012. In the spring, the Sirens LiveJournal hosts a series of posts on how to prepare a proposal, but in the meantime, please feel free to explore the programming section of the Sirens website and to put out feelers for co-presenters on the Sirens forums.
If you’re looking for programming ideas, check out the Sirens reading list, a selection of books that retell tales, myths, and legends.
Sirens Review Squad
We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to Jazz and thistleingrey for being reviewers for our inaugural year of this project. With the end of the year coming up, it’s time for us to open applications to be part of the squad for 2012.
We’re seeking a small group of reader-reviewers to continue this project. Each contributor will be part of the online project from January to October 2012, and will write 4-12 book reviews of 300–600 words each. Here are the parameters:
- Contributors’ reviews can be written in advance, and must be complete two weeks ahead of their scheduled publication so that the project coordinator can ensure that they’re lightly edited. (We expect that there might be a few typos.)
- Contributors work together to devise a schedule; you can contribute a review when you have the time to do so, though you should expect to spread out your reviews or write them earlier in the year so that they can run at a later date. You are responsible for being aware of, and meeting, your deadlines.
- About half of the reviews should be drawn from the Sirens reading list or Books and Breakfast reading list, and the other half selected with input from the project coordinator to ensure that there isn’t too much overlap. We’ll focus on books by guests of honor over the summer of 2012, so that is an option as well.
- You can revamp a previously written review, but it’s nice if you put together new content. Once your review is published, we’ll ask that you give us an exclusive for one month before you re-post it.
- Reviews need not be wholly positive, but contributors are encouraged to review books that they’d recommend rather than books they wouldn’t.
- Books reviewed should be women-authored or feature female characters; reviewing books that analyze fantasy literature is an option as well.
- Your words reflect your own reading experience, not the opinions or positions of Sirens.
- We’re happy to have reviewers return from year to year, if you’ve reviewed before.
We’d love to be able to include everyone who’d like to contribute, but having a small group of contributors works best. If you’d like to be considered as a contributor, please write to (help at sirensconference.org) by December 31, 2011, with the following information:
1. The name (and pen name, if that applies) that you’d like to review under
2. Your e-mail address
3. Three books you’d like to review from the Sirens reading list, and why (a sentence or two about each is fine)
4. How you’d like to focus your non-reading list/contributor’s choice reviews (for example, would you be interested in focusing on picture books, or short stories available online, or novels written in the 1980s, or anthologies, or…)
5. If you’re familiar with any particular blogging platforms or similar software, it’s nice to know
6. A link to three book reviews you’ve written and posted online OR the text of two sample reviews that we can read, pasted in the e-mail
Thank you for your interest! If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here or to write to (help at sirensconference.org).
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Razorbill (Penguin), 2009
Lili St. Crow
Lili St. Crow is skilled at breaking down gender stereotypes in depictions of her characters. When a girl pulls a gun on a guy, we expect a writer to have the guy call her bluff. In Strange Angels, we don’t see that. Lili shows us emotions without masculine or feminine stereotypes getting in the way. She shows us fear we can feel from both sides of the trigger, and the emotional strength it takes to pull it or not.
Initially, I was skeptical about Strange Angels. The tagline promoting the sequel, “Will Dru discover just how special she really is?,” did not give me any confidence that this was going to be anything but a YA paranormal romance with a Mary Sue. I was pleasantly surprised when Dru turned out to be exactly what she should be: the product of an upbringing in which she is motherless and accompanies her father into supernatural territory on what are most likely suicide missions.
Dru is uncouth; she says “goddamn” and belches as often as she pleases. She may be an amateur, but she doesn’t curl up in a ball when evil knocks on her door. She does something about it.
In addition to a strong female lead, Lili delivers a solid supporting male character in Graves. A cute half-Asian boy who is afraid he is becoming a werwulf. Graves offers comic relief in the presence of Dru’s serious business attitude. He plays a lot of roles throughout the story including the maybe-hopefully-boyfriend and the voice of reason for Dru, whose life is bereft of role models.
I found Graves to be the most interesting character in the book. We learn just enough about his past and everyday life to become intrigued and wonder what it was that got him to where he is (living in an abandoned part of a mall), and how his history will affect his choices now that he knows about the existence of paranormal beings.
Though, dangerous ground is tread when Dru describes Graves as a “half-breed,” and thinks it is good that Graves “hadn’t drawn the really slit-eyed card a lot of half-breeds have to play.” Maybe some racially mixed people like the shape of their thin eyes, Dru.
In the end, Lili shows us more of her skill at depicting the human condition after the shock of terrible events, and ushers in a new setting that will bring more exciting and dangerous adventures, and continue the quest for revenge and retribution to the lives of her characters. —Jazz
Questions? Please ask us here or write to (help at sirensconference.org).