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Perspective: On Programming – Artemis Grey

Sirens Programming I Have Loved

I’m an old crone in the Sirens world, having attended every conference since its inception in 2009. That’s given me years of experiences to draw from, so when Amy suggested writing a little something about Sirens programming that I’ve loved, I was like “I’m on it!” Then I actually tried to narrow the lists of programming that I loved down to something manageable, and things got more difficult. The truth is that I’ve loved every program at Sirens I’ve ever attended. So I sat and brooded a little, and tried (without cheating and looking back through program books) to single out programs that were still sitting fresh in my head.

First up, and one that’ll probably always stick in the forefront of my mind, is an afternoon class, “Dark Ages Armor,” presented by Dave Horvath, which took place at the very first Sirens in 2009. The class introduced us to armor of the dark ages, the parts of the armor, what it was made of, and a sample of Dark Ages weaponry. Not only was it an interesting class, but we were able to try on the pieces of armor, and Dave brought in some straw and we were allowed to actually try our hand at using a spear to pierce a shield. I mean, really at what conference can you use an actual weapon to stab an actual shield? Sirens, that’s what conference!

From the 2010 Sirens, I still think very often of two programs. One is “The Golden Age of YA” panel, with Rachel Manija Brown, Malinda Lo, Janni Lee Simner, and Sarah Rees Brennan. As someone who writes YA, it was wonderful to hear them discuss how it had evolved in recent years, blowing away the prior accepted length of 60,000 words and bulling its way through censorship and into a new world of writing where adults read the books as much as young adults do. As someone who was reading Stephen King when she was in her early teens, and who didn’t pick up a lot of YA books until she was in her twenties, I loved hearing the authors discuss these phenomena.

Also in 2010 Sirens was the workshop “Revision: Openings,” hosted by Sherwood Smith. Writers were able to bring WIPs and Sherwood read them aloud so that we could experience our openings the way a reader does. This was invaluable (and slightly terrifying) and I had such an amazing time that four years later, it’s still right there with me. Participants had the chance to weigh in (kindly but honestly) on each opening and briefly discuss what worked about it, and what didn’t, and even offer suggestions if they had them. You just can’t beat that sort of experience.

Sirens in 2012 brought “Siren with a Sword: Fencing 101” in the afternoon classes. Need I say more? FENCING. It was amazing. We had a room full of participants and not one person got run through. That in and of itself warrants note. What’s more, we learned basic positions and how to move from one to the next, how to balance them, and exactly how much core strength it takes to carry them out. All experiences you wouldn’t likely get anywhere else! And, as always, the company of other Sirens attendees cannot be beat.

For me, every piece of Sirens programing is one I’ve loved, because each one was an experience to be shared with my fellow Sirens. It’s this sense of inclusion and unity that makes Sirens such a wonderful place. Whether you’re an established and well-known author or a first time conference attendee, once you’re here, you’re a Siren forevermore. My personal favorite programs are ones that stir the imagination, but there’s always something for everyone. I implore anyone who has ideas for programming to submit a proposal! I was a first-time presenter back in 2009, and it was the best introduction to presentations I could have asked for. I’ve been a presenter off and on in the years since, and I plan on submitting to the vetting board for program in 2015 too!

–Artemis Grey
 

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