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Archive for April 2016

December Recap: Book Releases and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links and December book releases of fantasy by and about women.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve sold a fantasy work, read a great recently-released story, discovered a fantastic link that we missed, or if you’ve got a book or story review to share, please get in touch. Send news to (help at sirensconference.org).

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

 
Book Releases

2015DecemberCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

December 1:
Crucible: All-New Tales of Valdemar, ed. Mercedes Lackey
Tinder, Sally Gardner, ill. David Roberts
A Daughter of No Nation, A. M. Dellamonica
Rise of the Titans, Kate O’Hearn
Sweet Ruin, Kresley Cole
Gateway to Fourline, Pam Brondos
The Rosemary Spell, Virginia Zimmerman
The Curse of Jacob Tracy, Holly Messinger
The Light Warden, Liz Williams with introduction by Kari Sperring
Ash and Silver, Carol Berg
Hawthorn, Carol Goodman
Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days, G. Willow Wilson, ill. Adrian Alphona

December 7:
The Sleeping Beauty Theatre, Su Blackwell and Corina Fletcher

December 8:
A Dream of Ice, Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin
Mercury Retrograde, Laura Bickle

December 11:
Boundary, Mary Victoria Johnson
The Spirit Trap, Veryan Williams-Wynn

December 15:
Frozen Tides, Morgan Rhodes
Warlords and Wastrels, Julia Knight

December 17:
Deadly Sweet Lies, Erica Cameron

December 19:
Shadow Wrack, Kim Thompson

December 22:
The Beatriceid, Kate Elliott
Grudging, Michelle Hauck

December 29:
Endure, Sara B. Larson
Escaping Peril, Tui T. Sutherland
Between a Vamp and a Hard Place, Jessica Sims
Vendetta, Gail Z. Martin

December 31:
A Fantasy Medley 3, ed. Yanni Kuznia

 

Read Along with Faye: Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Elysium

Read Along with Faye is a new series of book reviews and commentary by Faye Bi on the Sirens communications staff, in which she attempts to read 25 books and complete the 2016 Sirens Reading Challenge. The series will consist mostly of required “theme” books and will post monthly. We invite you to read along and discuss! Light spoilers ahead.

There is so much to talk about with Elysium. I will share, for instance, that I’ve never disliked a book I’ve committed to listening to on audio. Because spending a dozen-plus hours with a story and narrator is not something I take on lightly, and when I do, I’m all in. I knew absolutely nothing about Elysium going in, and it was so many parts emotional rollercoaster, ambitious post-apocalyptic world-building and, ultimately, a saga of love and loss.

Elysium begins with the banal scene of our main character, Adrianne, contemplating meeting a friend for lunch. Nothing is out of the ordinary, save for strange green dot. She gets injured by some falling scaffolding and goes home to her boyfriend, Antoine. Then, the narrative rug is pulled out from underneath. After a series of 1s and 0s and a system reboot, Adrianne is now Adrian, a man with an ailing boyfriend, also called Antoine, and it’s no longer summer, but fall.

Every few pages is a new scene, a new circumstance, bled from the corner of the last to the next, with motifs of deer and owls in the margins. Each new story grows progressively bleaker, with the same iteration of character names: Adrian, Adrianne, Antoine, Antoinette, Hector, Helen, the one who doesn’t talk too much, the two that were more than friends, and so on. Brissett keeps almost nothing else consistent–are the main characters female or male? What is their sexual identity or orientation? Are they lovers? Parent and child? Best friends? Siblings? Are they wealthy, or poor? Struggling to survive, or do they have privileges of birth?–except that in all of them, one character was loved, and subsequently lost.

And what a fearless, ambitious story Brissett tells. Upon listening, it was as if she starts off in one square of a chessboard, only to lift the reader slowly to see the whole game. There were a lot of WTF moments, but in the best possible way, like “WTF is happening, because wow she went there.” The constant shifting identities and circumstances in Elysium is integral to the story, and transitions are marked by code, diagnostic failures, system reboots, and 0’s and 1’s (try listening to this on audio!). Without giving away too much, there’s a super clever and excellent reason for this, and you’re reading a book that starts off as contemporary, I will tell you that it’s squarely and unabashedly science fiction.

Besides the fascinating structure of the book, the underlying theme for me is how love and loss tie into the human condition: because ELYSIUM is about lovers and soulmates and friendship and family, as well as survival and heartbreak and illness and grief, is the story of… people. The people we love, and how we mourn them when they’re gone. Because who are we if we don’t love?

Next Month: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

 

Faye Bi works as a book publicist in New York City, and is a member of the Sirens communications team. She’s yet to read an immigrant story she hasn’t cried over, and is happiest planning nerdy parties, capping off a long run with brunch, and cycling along the East River.

 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Six: Workshops and Afternoon Classes

Part one of our programming series covered general proposal preparation, part two described presentation styles, part three explained papers, talks, and presentations, part four described panels, and part five delved into roundtable discussions. Not sure what to present? Consider these perspectives.

In this last part of our annual series on programming proposals, we’ll cover workshops and afternoon classes. While the focus and structure of these types of presentations are a little different, the proposal process is very much the same.

 


Workshops

Workshop sessions are led by an instructor and focus on the application and practice of craft. Generally, an attendee will expect to gain or expand upon a particular skill at a workshop, and the opportunity for participation marks this style of presentation.

Workshops often focus on some aspect of fantasy-related craft, like writing or art, but might also take a practical turn. Some examples:

  • how to plan a book club/reading group
  • how to write a satisfying ending
  • resources for library collection planning and development
  • how to self-edit your fantasy book
  • how to draw La Llorona
  • resources for blogging about and reviewing books

Seating specifics depend on the allotted rooms and overall program schedule, but typically, workshops have limited seating so that the instructor (or instructors) can answer questions and provide assistance to all of a workshop’s attendees.

 


Afternoon Classes

Afternoon classes are less formal demonstrations or classes in areas related to fantasy literature. They are not meant to replace workshops; instead, they are an opportunity for presentations that are of interest to fantasy fans but that are less closely related to the conference’s focus or theme, or topics that are fantasy-based but not necessarily related to a particular work. Afternoon classes may be similar to workshops or be more demonstration-based than how-to, and may be led by one instructor or a group. Some examples:

  • historical dress and music
  • martial arts
  • weaponry
  • battle strategy
  • costume construction
  • folk dancing
  • displayed collections of related works, like comics about women in fantasy

Afternoon classes are scheduled in blocks that range from one hour to 90 minutes, depending on available space and time during the conference, but instructors should plan for a shorter time block rather than a longer one.

Please note: If you’re unsure about which particular proposal type to choose, we’re happy to help. You can leave a comment here, attend an open chat, or write to (programming at sirensconference.org) for a consultation.

 


Timing

If you choose to propose a workshop or class and it is accepted, you’ll be scheduled in a 50-minute time block (unless you’ve explained and justified a request for additional time and we’re able to provide it—we won’t be able to confirm the length until the schedule is complete, usually in August).

If you have a workshop or class idea that could be presented in less than one hour, please consider teaming up with another presenter to team-teach or present on two items in a 50-minute block.

Afternoon classes are usually scheduled in the late afternoon, as more formal presentations wind down, and so we can rearrange chairs or make some noise if needed. We’ll try to find the best fit on the schedule, however, even if that means a different time during the day.

 


Getting Started

First, you’ll need to choose a focus for your workshop or class. What do you know that you can teach to someone else in about an hour? How can you make your workshop interactive and relevant? Are you aiming your workshop at beginners, intermediates, or advanced participants?

Once you’ve focused your idea, you’ll need some information ready to make your proposal.

 


Personal Information to Gather

  1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2016 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.
     
  2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.
     
  3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.
     
  4. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 


Proposal Information to Gather

There are three items that you’ll need for a complete workshop or afternoon class proposal.

  1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the workshop or afternoon class is about.
     
  2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. This is where you have the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in attending your workshop or afternoon class. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective(s) on the topic.

    Here are a couple of examples from past years that we think are excellent:

    What brings people together better than the written word? If you’re looking for a way to increase the appreciation and readership of speculative fiction in your city or school, you might consider creating your own literary journal or zine! We’ll learn about the simple steps to create your own journal and then develop a unique concept to take home! [workshop]

    Would you love to include horses in your manuscripts, but find that you don’t actually know much—or anything—about them? Many authors write horses into their books without consulting a professional horsewoman (okay, or horseman) first. The result l be an amusing mistake, or a total turnoff to the reader. Don’t worry; with a basic understanding of horses and the equipment related to them, anyone can write horses into their stories as a mode of transportation or as fully realized secondary characters. [workshop]

    The radical potential of speculative fiction resides in its potential to ask radical questions. With fiction, we can ask “What if?” How would that different world look and feel? How can we change the world we live in as a result of having written those fictions? This mini-workshop will provide tips and tools for writers who want to build new dynamic worlds and break old writing patterns. [workshop]

    Bring your curiosity to this presentation on dark ages armor. Dave will show you materials commonly used to make dark ages armor such as leather, hides, and wrought iron, as well as a few dark ages weapons. He will demonstrate the effectiveness of these weapons in penetrating these armor materials. Attendees may be able to try on various bits of armor. By the end of this class, you’ll have an appreciation for armor used in the dark ages and how effective it would be at enhancing the survivability and combat potential of those who wore it. [afternoon class]

    You are invited to an introductory class about Scottish Country Dancing, an eighteenth century style of ballroom dancing that is still popular today. This is a fun and social style of group dancing (and it’s really hard to step on your partner’s toes!). The class will include two ceilidh (informal) dances and one basic ballroom dance. Enthusiastic participation is necessary, but previous experience is not. [afternoon class]

    This afternoon class is designed to teach attendees the very basics of faerie wing construction using at least two distinct types of materials: fabric and cellophane. Other materials and types of wings will be discussed to show attendees the variety of options they have when creating costume pieces. Each person will be given a pre-built wire frame as a base to build their individualized wings. Participants are asked to donate a small amount to material costs. [afternoon class]

    As a storyteller, a public person in the world, your voice is an important and powerful instrument. Your whole body, your whole being is your voice! This workshop will give you a toolbox of warm-ups and exercises that will set you on the path to your own sound. Would you like to explore vocal techniques that help keep an audience riveted as you read to them? Would you like to learn how to project your voice powerfully without fatigue or soreness? Would you like to feel freer using your voice? Come prepared to work your breath, move your body, and make noise with Pan Morigan, music director of Chrysalis Theater and award-winning vocalist/songwriter. You absolutely do not have to be a singer or experienced “voice person” to attend! Even experienced singers have to deal with vocal basics every day, and you can do it too. Come play! [afternoon class]

    When fighting the establishment, it helps to have a few picks up your sleeves. Or in your hair, under your collar, clipped to your belt…you get the idea. Come join us in some subversive fun! Tumblers, bumpers, Bogota picks, and shims. Work your way free from cuffs, and hone your hands with the tips and tools of professionals. [afternoon class]

  3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but short—version of your presentation.

For a workshop or afternoon class, you can choose to summarize your workshop in a paragraph or two, or you might put together a lesson plan for your workshop instead. Be sure to explain any terms that might be unfamiliar.

You are welcome to submit a lesson plan; an outline of your plans can be more helpful than a summary of your philosophy. Please note, however, that a lesson plan is more than just an outline. A lesson plan includes, very specifically, the purpose for the lesson, what a student will learn, how the teacher will go about the lesson, and what the outcome will be.

Here are a couple of resources you might use to put together a brief but cohesive abstract section for your proposal:

If you’d prefer to write a formal abstract, these resources might help:

 


More tips:


Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources. If you’re taking the lesson plan route—highly recommended—you’ll need to walk through the content and timing of your workshop or afternoon class.

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual workshop or afternoon class, and helps the vetting board see the value of what you’ll teach, and why it’s important.

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” may result in a declined presentation. The vetting board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, and the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board will decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

 


Audio-Visual Requests

Workshops typically seat 25–40 attendees, so the provision of microphones depends on the overall schedule, the size of the room we have available for your workshop, and so on. You can make a request for computer and LCD projector, but please remember that we prioritize use of equipment for visually-oriented presentations, and consider what you might do if extra audio-visual support isn’t available. (We’re typically able to offer projection to workshops, but we can’t confirm availability until the schedule is complete. Please do explain how you’ll use a projector at the end of your proposal!) An easel and a small dry erase board will be provided.

We do try to fulfill as many audio-visual requests as possible, particularly for presentations like workshops, but it never hurts to have a plan B in mind. Afternoon classes are supported with audio-visual equipment in much the same way.

Typically, we schedule afternoon classes in larger spaces than workshops, particularly if they’re demonstration-based or if materials aren’t needed for each person.

 


FAQ about Proposals for Workshops and Afternoon Classes

What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?

Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 20, 2016. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

When is the proposal deadline?

May 9, 2016.

Do you accept all workshops/afternoon classes?

No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects the presentations that will be accepted for Sirens.

If my proposal is declined, can you tell me why?

Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my workshop or afternoon class?

Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. It puts them in a very awkward position. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?

As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come?

If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 9, 2016, you can ask around to see if someone can take your place or withdraw the presentation. Perhaps another attendee would be willing to fill in at the conference if you can provide your lesson plan. We have a Facebook page where you can post for assistance. We appreciate it when you make an effort to ensure that your presentation can remain on the schedule. If you’re unsure what to do, write to (programming at sirensconference.org) and we’ll talk about options.

Can I change the title of my workshop or class later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?

If you provide us with the information before the presentation is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary, as long as the focus of your presentation is not substantially changed. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to your presentation, and it is earlier than May 9, 2016, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?

Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 21 or 22, 2016.

Do you “track” presentations?

We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation and the variety of topics in a given year, as well as the schedules of guests and volunteers, and other logistical concerns, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter and to post on Facebook to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Quick links:
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information/Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)

 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook, leave a comment here, or tag us on Twitter so we can retweet?

 

Join Us for a Chat!
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Five: Roundtable Discussions

Part one of our programming series covered general proposal preparation, part two described presentation styles, part three explained papers, talks, and presentations, and part four described panels. Not sure what to present? Consider these perspectives.

Next up in our ongoing series on preparing a programming proposal: roundtable discussions!

Roundtable discussions are group chats led by a single moderator. These discussions are scheduled in rooms that accommodate no more than 25 attendees so that everyone can take an active part in the discussion, and so that it’s possible for the moderator to keep the discussion on track.

Roundtables depend on audience interaction for success. If you’re trying to figure out whether a topic is best suited to a roundtable or a panel, consider the degree of interactivity and the scale of participation, as well as whether you have a topic broad enough for the audience to dig into as individuals. For a roundtable, the interest is in the discussion the audience brings to the presentation, and the moderator proposes questions for everyone to answer; for a panel, the interest is in the viewpoints, discussion, and knowledge of the panelists, and the panelists do the majority of the talking.

A roundtable is:

  • a small and highly interactive discussion,
  • led by one person who keeps order and keeps the conversation moving
  • about a topic that is familiar or accessible to most of the audience
  • designed to engage all of the members of the audience

Roundtable discussions are scheduled as 50-minute blocks. Plan for at least 40 minutes of lively discussion, and you’ll probably find that audience questions and contributions easily fill 50 minutes!

 


Getting Started


First, you’ll need to choose a topic and focus for your roundtable. Consider the potential directions that the discussion about your topic might take and make notes of works that might be relevant. You’ll need to propose at least ten thoughtful questions for 50 minutes of discussion. Once you’ve focused your idea, you’ll need some information to make your proposal.

 


Personal Information to Gather

  1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2016 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.
     
  2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.
     
  3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.
     
  4. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 


Proposal Information to Gather

There are three items that you’ll need for a complete roundtable proposal.

  1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the roundtable discussion is about.
     
  2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. This is where you have the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in attending your roundtable discussion. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective(s) on the topic.

    Here are a couple of examples from past roundtable discussions that we think are excellent:

    In recent years, there has been a growing acceptance and inclusion of gay and lesbian characters in fantasy literature. But these still fall into binary patterns: men and women, heterosexual and homosexual. What about people who fall outside of this binary? Asexuals, demisexuals, transgender people, and people without gender? How are they represented? This roundtable encourages discussion on these topics as well as reading recommendations for those interested in books that fall outside the binary.

    Female political leaders in fantasy include hereditary rulers and elected leaders, women warriors, and civil servants. This roundtable will consider the different types of political leadership demonstrated by women in fantasy literature. How is their leadership shaped by their gender, their age, and the political system in which they work? How do these characters gain and exercise their political power? Have depictions of female political leaders in fantasy changed over time?

    Whether she’s the hand that rocks the cradle, offers the poison apple, or laces up the corset, a mother’s influence is a powerful thing. This roundtable will discuss popular images of motherhood in fantasy and examine young heroines both as daughters and as potential mothers themselves. We’ll pay special attention to the dark, violent, or monstrous mother figure who lurks behind the caregiver—and might want to eat you.

    Having once read about the “invisible hands” of the off-page servants and staff in Austen’s work and other historic literature, I wonder about how much history-inspired S/F either relegates off the page or forgets entirely the community required to run a great house, fortress, or even ranch. Who is raising the corn? Who is hauling the bathwater? Do they have stories to tell?

    This roundtable discussion will examine and dissect everyday sexism found within fantasy literature. We will focus both on the sexism women writers encounter within the publishing industry in regard to their characters and stories as well as in regard to themselves as writers, and how they’re subsequently represented to the public at large. Participants will be prompted to discuss commonly known facets of sexism, such as the encouragement of J. K. Rowling’s publisher that she use only her initials because they feared boys would be less interested in reading a book written by a woman, as well as lesser known incidents or personal experiences of sexism. This can include anything from writing under a pseudonym, to being asked to change a character’s sex simply for audience appeal, or the always popular “Your female character isn’t likeable or approachable, change her.” In addition to looking at female authors and the sexism they’ve faced, we’ll explore the fact that under certain circumstances, a male writer having written the same thing might not have been asked to alter their characters or the name under which their work is being marketed.

    Death and rebirth is a common step along the hero’s or heroine’s journey, so it is not uncommon for sci-fi and fantasy characters to have near-death experiences or ghostly visitations while on death’s threshold. This roundtable will explore the purpose and commonalities of fictional near-death experiences and associated tropes. We will also discuss how the fictional depictions compare to real life accounts and various cultural myths.

    Why can only a virgin girl tame a unicorn? And what is the origin of the succubus—always a beautiful, seductive woman, who is not only hyper-sexual, but often intent on killing her male lovers? How have these portrayals of women in mythology and folklore affected fantasy writing to this day? And how much of women’s sexuality in current fantasy novels is reflective of our own modern social mores?

    Can Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games be understood as folklore? Katniss’s journey is that of the archetypal hero in many aspects. If viewed from a folklore perspective, the narrative role of storytelling and the storyteller is complicated, especially in regards to Katniss’s story versus the Mockingjay’s, and in the ownership and creation of that storytelling process. After outlining folklore conventions evident in The Hunger Games, we will discuss how this perspective alters and illuminates the role of stories retold, again and again. Perhaps we can even answer the question behind it all: just whose story was Collins telling?

    Let’s talk about heroines as catalysts in revolutions. Not all heroines are battle commanders, though we can take time to appreciate the ones who are. Many begin with little besides their wits and skills. Some have special gifts, some do not. Some are born to rank, others are outsiders in various ways. In this roundtable discussion, we will talk about the different ways heroines in genre literature bring about change.

    For more inspiration, you might visit the Sirens archive to read summaries that have been accepted in the last few years.

     

  3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but short—version of your presentation.

    For roundtable discussions, you have the option of submitting sample discussion questions instead of an abstract, and this option is highly recommended. You’ll need at least ten thoughtful questions. An example of how you might approach your abstract as a series of questions is included below.

    1. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Luna refuses to be bullied, in part because she does not respond to that sort of attention. How does this illuminate her decision to become part of Dumbledore’s Army?
    2. Do you think she’s inclined toward resistance due to her beliefs about what is right, or because she’s already inclined to be unconventional? Or some other reason?
    3. How has Harry’s understanding of and relationship with Luna changed over the last few books? What about Luna’s relationship with other members of The Six?
    4. J. K. Rowling uses Luna as the commentator for the last Quidditch match we see in the books. Why Luna? What particular meta commentary can only Luna make here? What other characters might have worked in the same role, if not Luna?
    5. What role do you think Luna played in Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
    6. How do you think Luna responded to punishment she received while at Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
    7. We finally meet someone from Luna’s family: Xenophilius Lovegood. Is this the home life you’d imagined for Luna?
    8. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Luna is briefly matched against Bellatrix with Hermione and Ginny. Is there something more here—is this partly because Bellatrix and Luna are both guided by faith, or perhaps to show Luna as having “grrl power”?
    9. Many of the women in the Harry Potter series could be said to represent ideas for Harry—love, family, etc. If that’s so, what might Luna represent?
    10. J. K. Rowling has mentioned in an interview that she imagines Luna going on to become a naturalist and marry a grandson of Newt Scamander. Is this what you imagined for her? What other alternatives would seem likely, given what we learned about Luna in the series?

    If you’d prefer to write a formal abstract, some of the previous posts in this series included more in-depth information. View them using the annual programming series tag on our blog.

More tips:

Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources. If you’re taking the discussion questions route, you’ll need at least ten solid sample questions. (And one extra tip: avoid yes/no questions for these!)

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual roundtable discussion, and should be able to stand alone. A good abstract will include your thesis or approach, supporting details or arguments, and most importantly, your results, recommendations, or conclusion. The vetting board wants you to spoil the ending! (In a summary, you probably want to write something more like book jacket copy, but for the abstract, summarize the plot.)

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” may result in a declined presentation. The vetting board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, and the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board will decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

Remember that the roundtable discussion option allows for only one moderator/presenter. Please don’t plan a co-moderated roundtable discussion; if you’re looking for an option that allows for collaborators, try another presentation style. Not sure what to do? Email us! We’re happy to help.

 


Audio-Visual Requests
Roundtables are meant to be interactive and conversational, and so they are scheduled for smaller spaces. No microphone will be provided, and projection is not available. Need a visual aid? Consider printing out one or two copies to pass around the room. An easel and a small dry erase board will be available.

FAQ about Proposals for Roundtable Discussions

What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?

Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 20, 2016. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

When is the proposal deadline?

May 9, 2016.

Do you accept all roundtable discussions?

No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects which roundtables will be accepted for Sirens.

If my roundtable discussion is declined, can you tell me why?

Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my roundtable discussion?

Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. It puts them in a very awkward position. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?

As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come?
If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 9, 2016, you can ask around to see if someone can take your place or withdraw the proposal. Alternatively, perhaps another attendee would be willing to take your place at the conference if you can provide them with your sample questions. (Tip: Try asking for a substitute moderator on Facebook.) We appreciate it when you make an effort to ensure that your roundtable can remain on the schedule. If you’re unsure what to do, write to (programming at sirensconference.org) and we’ll talk about options.

Can I change the title of my roundtable later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?

If you provide us with the information before the roundtable discussion is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to the content of your presentation, and it is earlier than May 9, 2016, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?

Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 21 or 22, 2016.

Do you “track” presentations?

We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation and the variety of topics in a given year, as well as the schedules of guests and volunteers, and other logistical concerns, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter and to post on Facebook to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Quick links:?
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information/Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)

 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook, leave a comment here, or tag us on Twitter so we can retweet?

 

Join Us for a Chat!?
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

What is it like presenting programming at Sirens?

Casey Blair (@CaseyLBlair)
I’ve given presentations, run roundtables, and moderated panels at Sirens. I was sort of terrified before running my first panel—I’d never moderated before, and I didn’t really know most of the brilliant women who’d agreed to be panelists—and the Sirens staff was fabulous. They were available when I was figuring out whether and how to propose the panel at all, and when I was jittery before the event itself they were ready with encouragement, distraction by book recommendation (the Sirens bookstore is a dangerous place), and calm reminders of the “just breathe, you’re fine” variety as necessary.

The great thing about programming at Sirens is that people attend because they’re actively interested. If you run a roundtable, you will have no trouble getting audience participation—and they’ll blow through easy questions. I love the opportunity to generate discussions on questions I have no easy answers for, because Sirens have so many thoughtful opinions. They’ll ask insightful questions about presentations and challenge panelists. While I think it’s important to stay generally on topic, trust the audience and panelists to move the conversation forward and adapt with them, because Sirens attendees are sharp.

 
s.e. smith (@realsesmith)
Sirens is absolutely my favourite con when it comes to paneling. My co-panelists are always super-involved and engaged, as is the audience, and it’s wonderful to have a chance to collaborate with guests of honour on panels, which isn’t always possible at larger cons. The broad format also leaves considerable room for opening up panels to conversations that don’t happen in other spaces, especially for marginalized people who might not feel safe at big cons. I’ve paneled on everything from religion to Katniss’ hair, and loved every minute of it.
 

Sherwood Smith (@sherwood_smith)
I was delighted by the enthusiasm of a packed room who wanted to hear the history of fan language drawn from a number of world cultures. Then everyone got into the fun of putting together skits demonstrating fan language, and guessing the coded meanings. The only con at which I consistently have that much fun with other creative smart people has always been Sirens.
 

Edith Hope Bishop (@ehbishop)
I found presenting at Sirens to be a warm and welcoming experience. I was nervous, yes, but the Sirens staff and volunteers worked extremely hard to make sure I had everything I needed. They helped connect me with people who ultimately made our panel on mothers and self actualization a success.
 

November Recap: Sirens News, Book Releases, and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links and November book releases of fantasy by and about women.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve sold a fantasy work, read a great recently-released story, discovered a fantastic link that we missed, or if you’ve got a book or story review to share, please get in touch. Send news to (help at sirensconference.org).

 

ON THE BLOG: NOVEMBER 2015

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 8, Issue 1 (November 2015)

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

 
Book Releases

2015NovemberCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

November 1:
The Hush, Skye Melki-Wegner
Wormwood Gate, Katherine Farmar

November 3:
The After-Room, Maile Meloy ill. Ian Schoenherr
Black Wolves, Kate Elliott
Born of Betrayal, Sherrilyn Kenyon
Fearless, Marianne Curley
The Girl with the Ghost Eyes, M. H. Boroson
The Girl Who Could Not Dream, Sarah Beth Durst
Heart Legacy, Robin D. Owens
How to Train Your Dragon: How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury, Cressida Cowell
Jeweled Fire, Sharon Shinn
Manners & Mutiny, Gail Carriger
My Diary from the Edge of the World, Jodi Lynn Anderson
Neverseen, Shannon Messenger
Stars of Fortune, Nora Roberts
Tower of Thorns, Juliet Marillier
Word Puppets, Mary Robinette Kowal

November 5:
Bless the Skies, Julie Elise Landry

November 8:
The Last Faerie Queen, Chelsea Pitcher

November 10:
Darkness Hidden, Zoë Marriott
The Fox and the Star, Coralie Bickford-Smith
Legends and Liars, Julia Knight
The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, Vivian French ill. Angela Barrett
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne Valente
Soundless, Richelle Mead
The Trilogy of Two, Juman Malouf
Triple Moon, Melissa de la Cruz
Unforgiven, Lauren Kate
Winter, Marissa Meyer
The Wrinkled Crown, Anne Nesbet

November 15:
Lancelot: Her Story, Carol Anne Douglas

November 17:
Angel of Storms, Trudi Canavan
Dragon Marked, Jaymin Eve
The Golden Braid, Melanie Dickerson

November 24:
Sea of Sighs, Dawn Peers
The Seventh Bride, T. Kingfisher
You Have Never Been Here, Mary Rickert

November 28:
Cast in Honor, Michelle Sagara

November 30:
Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan Volume 2, Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Sea Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia, ed. Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng

 

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Four: Panels

Part one of our programming series covered general proposal preparation, part two described presentation styles, and part three explained papers, talks, and presentations. Not sure what to present? Consider these perspectives.

On to panels!

Panels usually consist of 3–4 panelists and a moderator. The moderator and panelists discuss a topic of interest, with most of the discussion coming from the panel (though the moderator may take some questions from the audience).

Panels are scheduled in a 50-minute time block, and you should expect to spend most of that time presenting your panel’s discussion. It’s okay to build in some time for questions, but have enough discussion prepared in case there aren’t many—and consider that structuring the panel’s discussion around some thoughtful questions means you’ll get to the good stuff.

Panels are particularly well-suited for finding out about a group’s experiences or for discussing a topic among several people with very diverse viewpoints.

If, for example, you have:

  • two people who have different perspectives on a particular theme
  • three people who are really interested in the use of dragons in fantasy
  • four people who are all at different points in their publishing careers
  • or a big question, like the future of fantasy, and you’d like to host a debate about the genre’s path

…you might want to organize a panel.

If you’re thinking that you’d really like to see an item on the schedule, but you have more questions than answers, you could organize the panel and be the moderator!

If you’re trying to figure out whether a topic is best suited to a roundtable or a panel:

  • Consider the degree of interactivity and the scale of participation. A panel is meant to be a small and highly interactive discussion among 3–4 panelists, with one person keeping order and keeping the conversation moving. A roundtable is meant to be a small and highly interactive discussion among no more than 25 people, with one person keeping order and keeping the conversation moving. For a roundtable, the interest is in the discussion the audience brings to the presentation, and for the panel, the interest is in the viewpoints of the panelists.
  • From a moderator’s standpoint, panels take more prep time than roundtables, because you’ll need to ask people to be part of your panel, and because you’ll want to (and probably need to!) have a conversation in advance about the shape of the panel, the emphases, potential questions, panelist knowledge, how to manage your time, and so on.
  • Roundtable discussions don’t involve others at the proposal stage, but can be more challenging to moderate, because you won’t have any idea who will attend or how the attendees will shape the discussion.

 


Getting Started

First, you’ll need to choose a topic and focus for your panel, and you’ll need to gather panelists. You can approach people you know or people that you don’t, but you should contact potential panelists before you submit their email addresses as panelists. That way, no one is surprised!

For panels, it’s often a good idea to narrow down your focus with input from your panelists—you never know what experiences they might have to share that can help shape the panel. Also, if you’ve disagreed amicably with someone on a topic, consider forming a panel that explores different aspects of an issue or theme.

The panelists can also take a role in preparing the summary and abstract for your proposal, not to mention leading the discussion and asking questions of other panelists at the conference, and they should be prepared to answer questions from the moderator, other panelists, and even the audience.

Once you’ve focused your idea, you’ll need some information ready to make your proposal.

 


Personal Information to Gather

  1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2015 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.
     
  2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.
     
  3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.
     
  4. Email addresses of the panelists. You won’t give us the names or biographies of your other panelists; we’ll send them an email request for that information. They will need to respond to the information request email for your panel to be considered, so please let your co-presenters know that this email is on the way and ask them to reply promptly. As with the rest of your information, presenters’ emails must be provided before your proposal is reviewed; you can’t submit a panel and find other presenters only after (or if) the panel is approved. (Also, a panelist who is not the moderator can be the one to submit the proposal, but it’s probably easiest all around if the moderator takes care of this task and becomes the point of contact.)
     
  5. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.

 


Proposal Information to Gather

  1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the panel is about.
     
  2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. This is where you have the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in attending your panel. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective(s) on the topic.

    Here are a couple of examples from past panels that we think are excellent:

    Much fiction, and much of our society, is viewed from “the male gaze.” This is a perspective in which expectations of what matters and what is worth being written about, as well as the way in which characters and events are seen and described, is from what might be called a “male view” of the world. What, then, is the female gaze? How do stories change when seen from the point of view of female desire and female agency? How do we read those stories differently? And does the critical establishment view such stories differently than those written with the more “normative” male gaze?

    Food in fantasy is often unthinkingly patterned on our own world and on clichés—aren’t we all tired of journeyers mindlessly eating stew? Consider that fantasy is thinner and weaker without thoroughly considering the foodways of the world. Unpacking food questions gives rise to musing on land types and land usage, food storage and preparation, nutritional needs, and also larger social constructs.
    Manga and anime feature a wide variety of monsters, from the morally ambiguous homunculi of Fullmetal Alchemist to the bizarre demon-weapons of Soul Eater to the charming creatures of Fruits Basket. Sometimes the monster is female, and sometimes the monster-slayer is—and, as in Claymore, sometimes the line between them blurs. This panel will discuss the monstrous female and the “monster girl” in anime and manga.

    From The Descent of Inanna to Dante’s Divine Comedy to Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Farthest Shore, journeys to the underworld/afterlife have been a staple of fantastic literature. This panel will discuss both the ancient tradition of underworld journeys and how this tradition is used in modern fantasy. Why does this theme have such an enduring appeal? How do modern novels use and transform it?

    In the midst of “strong female characters” going it on their own, what happens to cooperative fellowship, shared labor, and the femme side of being revolutionary? How do female villains play a role in revolutionary narratives? The revolution often begins at home, and the lone heroine approach devalues many female experiences and forms of labor. Hermione, Katniss, Maleficent, and Sansa all have their place—let’s talk about what real heroines and villains look like and why only some are celebrated.

  3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but very short!—version of your presentation. For a paper or lecture, it should outline the topic you plan to address and points for discussion, explain your conclusion, and point to major sources or theories that have influenced your thinking. Here are a couple of resources you might use to put together a brief but cohesive abstract section for your proposal—just keep in mind that details may differ:

 


More tips:

Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources.

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual panel, and should be able to stand alone. A good abstract will include your thesis or approach, supporting details or arguments, and most importantly, your results, recommendations, or conclusion. The vetting board wants you to spoil the ending! (In a summary, you probably want to write something more like book jacket copy, but for the abstract, summarize the plot.)

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” may result in a declined presentation. The vetting board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, and the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board will decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

Three to four panelists, including the moderator, is a good size for a 50-minute panel. We recommend that you keep your panel to this size for success. Everyone has ample time to speak, there will be minimal microphone sharing, and you have enough people for multiple perspectives. The submissions system will allow a moderator to name up to four additional panelists; beyond that, you must email us to add participants.

 


Audio-Visual Requests

  • Panels are routinely provided with microphones when the space is larger than a small classroom. We request that presenters use the microphones to assist the audience in hearing the entire presentation. Usually, one microphone is available for the moderator, with one or more shared microphones for panelists.
  • You can make a request for an LCD projector (with computer), but please remember that we prioritize use of equipment for visually-oriented presentations, and consider what you might do if extra audio-visual support isn’t available. We’re typically able to provide this support for panels—we just can’t guarantee it at the time we notify presenters of acceptance. Generally, panels focus on discussion, however, so if there are more requests than equipment, other presentation styles will have priority. Presentation rooms have an easel and a small dry erase board as standard equipment.
  • Some presenters will bring several copies of a handout to pass around and then collect email addresses of those who would like a copy after the conference, which saves room in everybody’s suitcase and is environmentally friendly. We approve!

FAQ about Proposals for Panels

What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?
Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 20, 2016. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

What is the proposal deadline?
May 9, 2016.

Do you accept all panels?
No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects the panels that will be accepted for Sirens.

If my panel is declined, can you tell me why?
Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my panel?
Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. It puts them in a very awkward position. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?
As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come? What if one of the panelists can’t come?
If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 9, 2015, perhaps another panelist can act as moderator for your panel, or perhaps another attendee you know would be willing to fill in at the conference and will take your place. You may find that a post on the Sirens Facebook works to find a replacement as well. We appreciate it when you make an effort to ensure that your panel can remain on the schedule. If there are not at least two people able to attend and present your panel, please have the panel moderator write to (programming at sirensconference.org) and we’ll talk about options.

Can I change the title of my panel later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?
If you provide us with the information before the panel is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary, as long as the focus of your panel is not substantially changed. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to your presentation, and it is earlier than May 9, 2016, please write us to withdraw your existing presentation and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?
Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 21 or 22, 2016.

Do you “track” presentations?
We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation and the variety of topics in a given year, as well as the schedules of guests and volunteers, and other logistical concerns, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter and to post on Facebook to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Quick links:?
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information/Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)

 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook, leave a comment here, or tag us on Twitter so we can retweet?

 

Join Us for a Chat!?
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Three: Papers

In part one of this series, we discussed some general information on programming. In part two, we detailed different ways to structure your proposal. Not sure what to present? Consider these perspectives. Our next few posts will show you how to prepare proposals for each type of programming. In this post: papers!

We’re going to use “paper” as shorthand, but please note that this post applies to other sorts of talks, lectures, and presentations.

This presentation style can range from a formal reading of a prepared paper to a more relaxed speech, where the presenter refers to notes to make her points. The presenter can go solo or work with others on a paper, or several presenters can read short papers as a set.

If your topic…

  • documents patterns
  • looks for hidden, subtle, or alternative meanings
  • brings together knowledge from different areas to expand on what’s in the books you’ve read
  • compares and contrasts works, characters, or authors
  • reports on research
  • uses a specific lens for interpreting literature or art
  • presents meta!
  • or critiques novels, themes, or approaches

…it could make a fantastic paper.

This is a good presentation style if you prefer to speak from a pre-written paper or speech, and it’s especially good if you need to lay significant groundwork for your audience, be persuasive, or delve into information that your audience might be unfamiliar with.

A group of several people may submit pre-empaneled papers, meaning that those papers have some connection, no matter how small, and the group would like to share a 50-minute time block for presenting. The only difference in the submission process is that person who begins the proposal in the system will need to provide a title and summary for the group as a whole, as well as the email addresses for all co-panelists, who will be contacted separately to provide their information. Each person will need to provide an individual biography, summary, and abstract.

Presenters may choose either 25-minute or 50-minute time blocks, which will include your reading or speech as well as any discussion and questions from (or for!) the audience. For pre-empaneled papers with more than two presenters, we’ll give you extra time on the schedule.

If you’ll be reading from what you’ve prepared in advance, a 6- to 10-page double-spaced paper is about right for the 25-minute time block; assume 2,000 to 3,000 words. For a 50-minute time block, assume a little less than twice that to leave time for discussion and to catch your breath or take a drink of water. Of course, it depends also on how fast you speak, whether you take time out for explanations, and so on, so determine in advance whether you need to err or the short side to make it to the conclusion during your allotted time.

 


Getting Started

As with other types of presentations, you’ll need to choose your focus, as well as a target for how long you’ll need to present your thoughts. From there, you’ll need to put together a strong abstract. (You don’t have to write a complete paper to turn in; we won’t ask for it at all, unless you’d like to be published in the conference compendium.)






Personal Information to Gather

  1. Your contact information (which is not shared with the vetting board). All correspondence about your proposal will be sent via email, so make sure to use an address that you’ll have through the end of 2016 and that you check regularly. Please add (programming at sirensconference.org) to your safe sender list so that correspondence is delivered to your inbox.
     
  2. Name to be published for presenter on website, schedule, and program. While we ask for some personal information to allow our registrar to confirm your status as a registered attendee, we know you might want to use a different name for your presentation, whether that’s a pseudonym, an online handle, or a formal name that you use professionally. (Please note that we drop titles on our schedule and with presentation summaries, but you’re welcome to note titles and professional credentials in your biography.) The “name to be published” will be the name we show to the vetting board, programming volunteers, and other attendees.
     
  3. Professional affiliation. This is for those presenters who wish to note their current association with a university, and occasionally, a business or professional organization if their presentation is related in some way and they’re speaking with the endorsement of their job. Some people use this field; most don’t unless they’re currently teaching at a university.
     
  4. If you are starting a proposal for a group of pre-empaneled papers, you’ll need the email addresses of the other presenters. You won’t give us the names or biographies of your other presenters; we’ll send them an email request for that information. Your other presenters will need to respond to the information request email for your pre-empaneled papers to be considered, so please let your co-presenters know that this email is on the way and ask them to reply promptly. As with the rest of your information, presenters’ emails must be provided before your proposal is reviewed; you can’t submit a panel of papers and find other presenters only after (or if) the panel is approved. (Also, a co-presenter, rather than a moderator, can be the one to submit the proposal, but it’s probably easiest all around if the moderator takes care of this task and becomes the point of contact.)
     
  5. Your biography. Tell us, in under 100 words, a little about you. A couple of sentences work fine! You can explain any experience, studies, or long-term interest in your topic; tell us where you’re going to school; or what you do as a job or as a hobby. Shorter is better, because space is limited.






Proposal Information to Gather

  1. Title. Remember that this title will be shown to the vetting board, so neither “Untitled” nor “TBA” is a good title idea! On the other hand, you don’t have to come up with something witty—just explain what the paper, lecture, or presentation is about.
     
  2. A summary of no more than 100 words. This is the very short version of your presentation that will be published in the program book and on the Sirens website. The summary gives you the chance to attract an audience who will be interested in hearing your paper. It should be concise, written for a general audience (in other words, avoid slang and jargon, if you can), and give people a sense of your perspective on the topic. Here’s one example that we’ve borrowed from a paper that was presented at archives of past years’ presentations (look for the links in the navigation bar at the top to move from year to year).
     
  3. An abstract of no more than 500 words. An abstract is a complete—but very short!—version of your presentation. For a paper or lecture, it should outline the topic you plan to address and points for discussion, explain your conclusion, and point to major sources or theories that have influenced your thinking. Here are a couple of resources you might use to put together a brief but cohesive abstract section for your proposal—just keep in mind that details may differ:

 


More tips:

Most abstracts range from 100 to 300 words, though they can be up to 500 words, and are 1–3 paragraphs long. Aim for about 300–350 words, and at least a good, solid paragraph, unless you need more space to explain a theory or cite sources.

Your abstract should not be the same as your proposal summary. An abstract is the part of your proposal where you get a little more room to convince the vetting board that your presentation should be chosen. It is the short version of your eventual paper, and should be able to stand alone. A good abstract will include your thesis or approach, supporting details or arguments, and most importantly, your results, recommendations, or conclusion. The vetting board wants you to spoil the ending! (In a summary, you probably want to write something more like book jacket copy, but for the abstract, summarize the plot.)

“See my other proposal for X [biography, summary, alternate abstract]” may result in a declined presentation. The vetting board members may not have access to your other proposal for a variety of reasons: it could be on hold while collaborators check in, and the board members may not yet be reviewing your other proposal or they may simply decide they are unwilling to search through the proposals to do this comparison for you. Take a moment to copy and paste in your information again.

Make sure that your proposal is complete. The vetting board wants to know that you have a clear plan. No “maybe we’ll do this, or maybe someone in the audience will suggest something, or if you want, I could do this or that.” There’s a difference between allowing room for audience participation and not having a plan!

Have a volunteer who is willing to provide you with honest feedback look over your proposal, both to proofread it and to offer suggestions for organization, focus, and purpose. Remember, the vetting board won’t see your entire paper, and they won’t know if you’re the most engaging speaker to present in a hundred years. They’ll decide whether to accept or decline your presentation based on your summary and abstract.

 


Audio-Visual Requests

  • Paper presenters are routinely provided with microphones, and we request that presenters use the microphone to assist the audience in hearing the entire presentation.
  • A table and podium will be available, allowing you to stand or sit down.
  • You can make a request for an LCD projector (with computer), but please remember that we prioritize use of equipment for visually-oriented presentations, and consider what you might do if extra audio-visual support isn’t available. We’re typically able to provide this support for papers, lectures, and presentations—we just can’t guarantee it at the time we notify presenters of acceptance. If you desire projection, be sure to explain how you’ll use it in your proposal.
  • Presentation rooms have an easel and a small dry erase board as standard equipment.
  • Some presenters will bring several copies of a handout to pass around and then collect email addresses of those who would like a copy after the conference, which saves room in everybody’s suitcase and is environmentally friendly. We approve!

FAQ about Proposals for Papers, Lectures, and Presentations

What are the requirements for presenting? Do I have to be a teacher or scholar?
Our only requirement is that you be eligible to attend Sirens, which means that you must be at least 18 years old by October 20, 2016. We have no academic or professional requirements, and in the past we’ve received excellent presentations from high school students, grandmothers, professors, musicians, fans, and teachers, among others. Remember—your voice is important.

What is the proposal deadline?
May 9, 2016.

Do you accept all papers/presentations?
No; we forward all proposals to the vetting board, which selects the papers that will be accepted for Sirens.

If my paper is declined, can you tell me why?
Unfortunately, we can’t. We simply have too many proposals, and we don’t ask the vetting board members to write up formal feedback. We can say, however, that proposals are never declined because they include unpopular opinions or controversial takes, or on the basis of personal relationships; the board is designed so that no single person accepts or declines a submission. In the past, we’ve found ourselves in the lucky position of having more excellent ideas than we could include, and that will likely be true in the future as well.

Should I contact the vetting board about my paper/presentation?
Please do not contact the vetting board members about your proposal. It puts them in a very awkward position. They make their decisions confidentially, and can’t answer questions about the status of your presentation. Instead, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org) if you have questions. We’re happy to help!

How many proposals can I make?
As many as you like. However, we want to emphasize that one or two presentations is a good maximum number that enables you to be part of the presenting side and part of the listening side, so we recommend that you focus on just one or two proposals that you’re most excited about.

What if I make a proposal and it’s accepted, but I can’t come?

If you find out that you won’t be able to attend before May 9, 2016, you do have the option of withdrawing. After that, we strongly encourage you to advertise on Twitter and Facebook for a proxy reader: someone who will be attending Sirens and can read your paper in your place. In order to complete our schedule as quickly as possible—so that we have the necessary lead time to make arrangements for equipment, so that we can proofread and publish the final schedule, and so on—we do not keep a waiting list for presenters. And it’s always a disappointment to have to cancel your presentation.

Can I change the title of my paper later? Can I change the format or focus of my presentation?
If you provide us with the information before the paper is passed on to the vetting board, then yes, you may make changes to the title or summary, as long as the focus of your paper is not substantially changed. We will ask you for a final confirmation upon acceptance, and you will have a short time to make updates before the information is published and final.

You may not make major changes to your presentation’s direction or format once it has been accepted; the proposal that you entered is the one that the board approved. If you wish to make substantial changes to your presentation, and it is earlier than May 9, 2016 please write us to withdraw your existing presentation, and then create a new one through the submissions system.

Can I request a specific day and time for my presentation?
Unfortunately, no. While we will take certain immovable factors into account, like presenting at another conference during the same weekend, we have so many presenters and constraints that we’re unable to take scheduling requests (everyone wants to present at the same time, but without being at the same time as any other presentation). The schedule depends on our ability to create thematic tracks of presentations, our need to accommodate presenters with multiple presentations, any restrictions on space and available hours, and availability of audio-visual equipment. You should expect your presentation to occur on October 21 or 22, 2016.

Do you “track” presentations?
We make an attempt to schedule presentations into morning and afternoon tracks by theme and by type of presentation, and sometimes by format and audio-visual needs. The advantage here is that an attendee could spend half a day absorbed in a topic or theme without needing to move from room to room. That’s not always possible, of course, because of the different styles of presentation and the variety of topics in a given year, as well as the schedules of guests and volunteers, and other logistical concerns, but we do try not to schedule two presentations on closely related topics at the same time, whenever possible.

How can I connect with other presenters or collaborators?
Please feel free to tag @sirens_con on Twitter and to post on Facebook to suggest ideas that you’d like to see someone propose, to search for collaborators, and to brainstorm topics.

 


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Quick links:?
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information/Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)

 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook, leave a comment here, or tag us on Twitter so we can retweet?

 

Join Us for a Chat!?
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

Our Annual Programming Series, Part Two

See part one for general information on programming, including who can participate, how it’s selected, and where to find the information you’ll need to make a proposal.

Once you have an idea for a topic or two to present, you’ll need to decide on a format for your presentation. This post describes different presentation styles and offers some basic guidelines and tips for preparing proposals.

Sirens programming typically includes:

 


Papers, Lectures, and Presentations

You might have written an essay, a research paper, an article, or an in-depth blog post that could become the basis for a paper, lecture, talk, or presentation. Most of the time, you’ll need to do some research and reading, and at minimum, you’ll need to come with speaking notes for yourself, even if you choose not to write a more formal paper. If you have a lot of information to present to an audience, a paper/lecture/presentation is probably the best presentation fit. It’s also a good presentation style choice for people who like to think things through in advance, and for people who like to organize and express their thoughts in writing or through reading. Analyses, research, comparisons, perspectives from literary and non-literary fields, theories, histories, arguments, deconstructions, critiques, and the like work well here.

Time allotted: 25 or 50 minutes for reading and any questions or discussion

A/V availability: Microphones will be provided. LCD projection will probably be available; however, projection is provided on a most-needed basis and not announced until after the final schedule is complete, so it’s best to plan your paper, lecture, or presentation as though you won’t be able to show slides, just in case. If you do wish to use projection, be sure to note in your proposal how and why you’d use it, so we can use that information when arranging equipment.

If projection is offered once the schedule is complete, you’re welcome to use it even if you didn’t request it.

Other considerations:

  • We don’t require you to write a paper, or to turn in your paper to Sirens, but we strongly encourage you to prepare a written document. It’s helpful to have some text even if you plan to wing it during your presentation and speak more informally. The paper will be eligible for inclusion and publication in the post-conference compendium.
  • Papers are usually written by a single author, but co-authors and author groups are welcome! At least one author must attend the conference to make the presentation.
  • Prepare for a 25- or 50-minute time block. If you include 5–10 minutes for questions and discussion following the presentation, that’s roughly 6–10 double-spaced pages (or 2000 – 3000 words) for the 25-minute block, and 10–15 double-spaced pages (or 3000 – 5000 words) for the 50-minute block.

 


Pre-empaneled Papers

If you and your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances have a set of papers, lectures, essays, or speeches, and you would like to offer these as a group (or you want to ensure that you present sequentially as part of the same time block), you may present these as pre-empaneled papers by submitting a single proposal. The information about papers above applies here as well. We encourage pre-empaneled papers to have a connecting theme—a particular author or series, depictions of female warriors in graphic novels, gender in fairy stories, subverted monster tropes, analyses of romantic relationships in fantasy, and so on. Another idea might be to take on different approaches to the same subject, such as the application of different theories to the reading of a story, or different professional approaches and reactions to that story.

Time allotted: 50 minutes; however, sets of three or more papers may be allotted additional time

A/V availability: Microphones will be provided. LCD projection will probably be available; however, projection is provided on a most-needed basis and not announced until after the final schedule is complete, so it’s best to plan your paper, lecture, or presentation as though you won’t be able to show slides, just in case. If you do wish to use projection, be sure to note in your proposal how and why you’d use it, so we can use that information when arranging equipment.

If projection is offered once the schedule is complete, you’re welcome to use it even if you didn’t request it.

Other considerations:

  • One member of your group will make the initial proposal, and provide information about their own paper and the group’s overarching theme, if any; then, the other group members will be contacted for more information about their individual parts of the presentation.
  • The structure and use of the 50-minute period for reading and questions is up to the panel.
  • A set of pre-empaneled papers can have an active or an inactive moderator. An active moderator might lead a brief question-and-answer period for each paper, or ask questions of all of the panelists between their presentations. An inactive moderator might be the point of contact for the panel, and during the conference, she might just introduce each panelist and paper in turn. The moderator might make only a very brief statement on the topic and then introduce the panelists for longer speeches, or she might also act as a panelist and deliver her own lecture or paper.
  • We recommend that 2–3 papers, lectures, or presentations (or some combination) be included in a set of pre-empaneled papers. That gives you time to read your papers—or excerpts from your papers—and time for discussion. If you have three or more presenters, we will give you more time for your presentation than the 50-minute time block.

 


Panels

Panels are discussions among 3–5 people. For the most part, the panel’s moderator directs the discussion: they ask questions of the panelists and ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing; they ensure that each panelist has the chance to speak; they have plenty of provocative questions to ask to fill silences; and they keep everyone on topic and on time. The moderator is also the one to decide whether and when to take questions from the audience during the presentation. Panels are good choices for people who—though they’ll prepare in advance—like to share information through discussion, and they’re great choices for people who enjoy asking questions of and moderating a small group, rather than a large one. Panels are best suited for gathering several people with shared experience in an area, for weighing pros and cons, for sharing very different viewpoints, for debating, and so on.

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: Microphones will be provided (panelists may have to share). Because the panel is focused on discussion, projection is less likely to be available than it might be for other types of presentations. You’re welcome to request it; however, please remember that LCD projectors are prioritized for presentations where visual examples are an integral part of the session. (If you need to have a lot of visuals, your group might prefer to propose a presentation; each person could provide a few minutes of information and discussion on your topic.) If you do wish to use projection, be sure to note in your proposal how and why you’d use it, so we can use that information when arranging equipment.

Other considerations:

  • It’s okay to wrap up early if the panel comes to a natural stopping point, but the moderator and panelists should prepare for at least 35–40 minutes of discussion, with significantly more time devoted to panelist discussion than audience questions.
  • Panels may have a large audience, but the majority of the discussion should be generated by the moderator and panelists, rather than drawn from audience questions. Panelists are the experts—the guests on the talk show. They should think about the panel topic in advance, make notes if necessary, and consider bringing their own questions for the other panelists. To put it another way, the strongest panels come from having prepared a good discussion to fill at least 2/3 of the time, and then letting the audience build upon the discussion with questions, rather than leaving the structure to the mercy of audience questions!

 


Roundtable Discussions

Roundtable discussions involve everyone at the presentation. In a roundtable discussion, the moderator comes prepared with a set of open-ended questions to be answered by the audience. The discussion is the purpose of the presentation; the moderator engages the audience members and directs the conversation. Roundtable discussions might work best when they’re constructed in such a way that an attendee doesn’t have to be an expert on the topic to participate; they seem to work best for broader topics, where attendees can offer up examples from many sources. (A good way of thinking about it might be that friendships in a specific set of books could become the basis for a good paper, and friendships in fantasy in general might work better for a roundtable.) This style of presentation can be a great choice for people who like to listen, but aren’t afraid to jump in to keep things on topic. Be prepared: Discussions can range from docile to very spirited! Roundtable discussions are well-suited to open-ended questions on subjective analyses, book/character explorations, and conversations where the audience’s knowledge and opinions are of highest importance.

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: No microphones or projection are provided for roundtables; these presentations are scheduled for smaller rooms and a limited audience. We do provide a small dry-erase board and marker.

Other considerations:

  • A roundtable discussion can have only one moderator. We’ve found that the discussions flow more easily when there is just one person acting as moderator, and that the discussions are much better received by the participants when they have only one person “in charge.”
  • We recommend preparing at least ten open-ended questions to fill a 50-minute block. You’ll probably find that this is plenty—your audience will often have questions of their own to pose—but you can, of course, prepare a few extras.
  • Roundtable discussions are designed to be like the discussion session of a big university class. We want these discussions to be very participatory, and we want everyone in attendance to have a chance to speak—and thus, we limit the audience to approximately 25 participants.
  • Moderators should bring along an extra copy or two of their proposed discussion questions. If time and space allow, volunteers will attempt to set up additional discussion sections on the fly if the originally scheduled discussion fills up.

 


Workshops

Workshop are instructor-led presentations that are related to fantasy literature and designed to help the audience members walk away with new or expanded skills. As with roundtables, we want everyone who attends the presentation to be able to participate fully and to be able to ask questions and get individualized help, so the seating is limited. Workshops are good presentation choices for people who enjoy teaching and can break down a topic into components. Writing and art workshops, advice on setting up blogs/websites/reading lists, how to do something connected to fantasy (like understanding and writing horses, or using social media to promote your work in fantasy, and so on) and other hands-on activities are just a few ideas for workshops.

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: Considered on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to include and explain any A/V requests in your proposal. Because of the limited audience, you may be placed in a room without a microphone, but with projection available—please do make requests if necessary.

Other considerations:

  • Team-taught workshops are welcome!
  • Instructors are responsible for acquiring any needed materials for workshops. To keep costs down for materials-heavy workshops, instructors might consider using one or two larger demonstration items, providing limited materials to be shared in small groups, or asking workshop participants to donate a small amount toward the cost of materials. If this will be your situation, please don’t hesitate to consult the programming team for estimating assistance in figuring out which will be the best option for you, as well as how to communicate requests to your workshop’s attendees.
  • To ensure that the instructors can assist all workshop attendees, the audience size is typically limited to a maximum of 40 attendees. (If your workshop doesn’t rely on materials, or if you’re not planning to give individualized feedback, there may be more seats available so as many people as possible can listen in, but we’ll work with you in advance.) Workshops may have as few as 25 seats available.

 


Afternoon Classes

Afternoon classes are a way to present topics of interest to fantasy readers that might not be directly related to readings of fantasy literature. Afternoon classes are especially suited to demonstrations and hands-on lessons. (There is some overlap between workshops and afternoon classes; please feel free to email us if you’re not sure which presentations style is the best fit.) Historical dress or music, dance, martial arts, weaponry, battle strategy, costume makeup, photo manipulation, vidding, and similar topics are great options for afternoon classes, and if you know something about fencing, archery, falconry, or survival, those are oft-requested presentations. Afternoon classes are limited by the size of the space available, and by request, by materials. Please see the information about workshops, above, for general information.

Time allotted: 50 minutes; more time may be available during the evening break (please explain in your abstract if you expect the class to run a little longer)

A/V availability: Considered on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to include and explain any A/V requests in your proposal.

 


Combination Presentations

Most presentations, even if they make some use of multiple presentation styles, usually can fall within one of the broad groups above. Combination presentations might take elements from two or more categories, and use them at length: a workshop might start out with a short paper on the topic, a paper might be followed by a panel, or a roundtable discussion might be followed with a hands-on workshop. You might also have a more formal offering that doesn’t fit neatly into the categories above, such as a screening of your original fantasy film paired with a talk on its production. The combination presentation option allows you to describe your presentation and its components.

If you’re considering this type of presentation, we encourage you to write to the programming team in advance; we often find that what’s planned for a presentation is in fact quite similar to what’s normally found in one of the presentation types listed above, and we can advise on which category might be best suited to your proposal. (We can help you save a little time, too, during the submissions process, by giving you information on what to include in your combination proposal.)

Time allotted: 50 minutes

A/V availability: Considered on a case-by-case basis. Please be sure to include and explain any A/V requests in your proposal.

 

Quick links:?
Programming Overview
Call for Proposals/Guidelines/Additional Preparation Information/Submit a Proposal
Past Conferences Archive
Specific Questions for the Programming Team: Email (programming at sirensconference.org)

 

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook, leave a comment here, or tag us on Twitter so we can retweet?

 

Join Us for a Chat!?
We’ll be hosting two chats on the Sirens website for talking about programming ideas—and for books, travel, Sirens, and meeting potential travel buddies and roommates. Join us on Friday, April 22, from 9 to 11:00 p.m. Eastern or Sunday, May 1, from 1 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The linked page will turn into a chat during those hours; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

 

Or a Tweet!
Check out our Twitter, and the hashtag #SirensBrainstorm for ideas.

October Recap: Sirens News, Book Releases, and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links and October book releases of fantasy by and about women.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you’ve sold a fantasy work, read a great recently-released story, discovered a fantastic link that we missed, or if you’ve got a book or story review to share, please get in touch. Send news to (help at sirensconference.org).

 

ON THE BLOG: OCTOBER 2015

Testimonials: Inspired by Sirens–Edith Hope Bishop

Testimonials: Inspired by Sirens–Artemis Grey

Testimonials: Inspired by Sirens–Yoon Ha Lee

Testimonials: Inspired by Sirens–Nivair Gabriel

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

 

Book Releases

2015OctoberCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

October 1:
Darkness on His Bones, Barbara Hambly

October 6:
Against a Brightening Sky, Jaime Lee Moyer
Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
The Chess Queen Enigma, Colleen Gleason
Cinderella’s Shoes, Shonna Slayton
Closer to the Heart, Mercedes Lackey
Dreamstrider, Lindsay Smith
Empire Ascendant, Kameron Hurley
A Frozen Heart, Elizabeth Rudnick
Ghost to the Rescue, Carolyn Hart
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories, Audrey Niffenegger
The House, Christina Lauren
An Inheritance of Ashes, Leah Bobet
It’s a Wonderful Death, Sarah J. Schmitt
Life and Death Twilight Reimagined, Stephenie Meyer
Marked, Sue Tingey
Mythmaker, Marianne De Pierres
She Walks in Shadows, ed. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles
Silver on the Road, Laura Anne Gilman
Sing Down the Stars, L. J. Hatton
Swords and Scoundrels, Julia Knight
A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, Lisa Papademetriou
A Thousand Nights, E. K. Johnston
Undead and Unforgiven, MaryJanice Davidson
The White Rose, Amy Ewing
White Trash Zombie Gone Wild, Diana Rowland
Wild Sky, Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann

October 8:
Gathering Deep, Lisa Maxwell

October 13:
An Apprentice to Elves, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
Boundary Lines, Melissa F. Olson
Dark Tide, Jennifer Donnelly
The Devil and Winnie Flynn, Micol Ostow ill. David Ostow
Ice Like Fire, Sara Raasch
The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas
Of Sorrow and Such, Angela Slatter
SandRider, Angie Sage
Sound, Juliet Madison
Wendy Darling: Stars, Colleen Oakes

October 15:
Dead Girls Don’t, Mags Storey

October 19:
Witch Hunt, Kasi Blake

October 20:
A Sliver of Stardust, Marissa Burt
The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, Kim Newman
Wolf by Wolf, Ryan Graudin

October 22:
Supervision, Alison Stine

October 27:
City of Halves, Lucy Inglis
Dark Heart of Magic, Jennifer Estep
The Devious Dr. Jekyll, Viola Carr
Fathomless, Anne M. Pillsworth
The Fairy Swarm, Suzanne Selfors
Gabriel, Nikki Kelly
Little Red Gliding Hood, Tara Lazar ill. Troy Cummings
The Monstrous, ed. Ellen Datlow
Persuasion, Martina Boone
Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
Winter Wolf, Rachel M. Raithby

October 28:
Tremontaine, Ellen Kushner and various authors

October 30:
The Key, Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

 

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