Archive for May 2016

Sirens Scholarship Applications: People of Color/Non-White People

Sirens—and its community—values inclusiveness, diversity, and representation. As Sirens grows more inclusive, our community and our conversations become more informed, more respectful, and more vibrant. While many who attend Sirens do represent a variety of genders, sexualities, races, ethnicities, creeds, and abilities, both Sirens and its community are committed to helping additional individuals attend Sirens.

That’s why, when the Sirens community raises money to fund Sirens scholarships, our first allocation is three scholarships to Con or Bust. Con or Bust is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend science fiction and fantasy conventions. Sirens is proud to have worked with Con or Bust in a variety of ways during our history—and for the support of the Sirens community in increasing our support in recent years.

In 2016, Sirens has three scholarships—which include both a full Sirens registration and a round-trip Sirens Shuttle ticketavailable through Con or Bust. To apply, please visit Con or Bust and apply using their processes. Because Sirens is still several months away, Con or Bust will allocate its three Sirens scholarships during a request period—which is happening right now. Con or Bust’s current request period will end June 6; if they have three requests for the Sirens scholarships at that time, they will allocate the scholarships then.

If you are a person of color/non-white person and you’d like to come to Sirens, we hope that you’ll consider applying for a scholarship with Con or Bust. We designed our scholarship program specifically to help additional voices join our conference and our community—and your voice counts!


Read Along with Faye: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap

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.

It took me a long time to finally decide to pick up Bone Gap. I’d heard that it was about an abduction of a young woman. Those who know my reading taste know that sexual violence is one of my biggest reading triggers—I struggle even when I know it will take place, and when blindsided, I crumble. It turns out, I needn’t have worried, because while there was indeed an abduction, there were stunning ruminations on the burden of beauty, consent and redemption.

Bone Gap begins with two brothers, Finn and Sean O’Sullivan, who reside in the mysterious and actually-named town of Bone Gap, Illinois. A beautiful girl named Roza shows up barefoot in their barn, clearly traumatized but offering no explanation. She recovers, and integrates into their lives by cooking homey Polish food and tending the garden… until one day at the town fair, she disappears. Finn insists that she was abducted by a man whose face he can’t remember. No one, including Sean who was planning to propose to Roza, believes Roza didn’t just disappear of her own free will.

There are clear parallels to the myth of Persephone and allusions to fairy tales, but examining Roza’s character in the concrete, she is one of those stunningly beautiful people who are just absolutely stunning—and her struggles so absolutely relatable to me as a woman. Readers get a lot of Roza’s backstory in the chapters that she narrates, and it’s clear that starting as a young teenager, people (especially men) saw her as a beautiful, dehumanized object, to be touched and possessed, to be assumed about, without independent thought or agency. And then there is this man, Roza’s professor and in a position of power, who whisks her away to a magical land and builds her a magic castle with all the servants, dresses and food she could ever want. Who calls her a “beautiful creature” and vows to make her love him. But she doesn’t.

Roza is not ur puppet. And really, Roza, with some help from Finn and Petey, saves herself. (Also, how effing cool is Petey? I love Petey, not just as a foil to Roza, because she’s badass and also, BEES.) I will also add that Roza’s psychological journey here is dazzling. Laura Ruby wrote a fantastic post about leaving out the explicit details in Roza’s rape, which I can’t even tell you how I am how grateful for. In fact, it may be the whole reason why I have this trigger in the first place. What other details matter except the fact that she survived?

There’s a lot going on—social critique and gorgeous imagery and fantasy (yes, I’m in the “this book is fantasy” camp). There’s a reveal about Finn’s character which I found so metaphorically appropriate, which makes him a powerful and unreliable narrator. There’s also critique of masculinity; in a typical hero’s journey book, our main character would be Sean, not Finn, and Ruby does explore the relationship between the two brothers. But let’s not kid ourselves, Bone Gap is about The Importance and Tragedy of Being Roza, and even if the ending is pat, I love it.

Next Month: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho


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.


April Recap: Book Releases and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links and April 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



Interesting Links:

Book Releases


Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

April 5
Almost Dark, Letitia Trent
Daughters of Ruin, K. D. Castner
The Edge of Worlds, Martha Wells
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire
Flamecaster, Cinda Williams Chima
Forest of Ruin, Kelley Armstrong
The Glittering Court, Richelle Mead
Golden, Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston
Lumberjanes Volume 3: A Terrible Plan, Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, ill. Brooke A Allen
In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent, Marie Brennan
King’s Folly, Jill Williamson
The Mirror King, Jodi Meadows
Once Upon a Dream: A Twisted Tale, Liz Braswell
Tell the Wind and Fire, Sarah Rees Brennan

April 11
The Jasmine Sneeze, Nadine Kaadan

April 12
The Book of Forbidden Widsom, Gillian Murray Kendall
A Fierce and Subtle Poison, Samantha Mabry
Island of Dragons, Lisa McMann
Loreena’s Gift, Colleen M. Story
The Mage of Trelian, Michelle Knudsen
Masks and Shadows, Stephanie Burgis
Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood, Liesl Shurtliff

April 19
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge
Daughter of Albion, Ilke Tampke

April 26
Bright Blaze of Magic, Jennifer Estep
Down with the Shine, Kate Karyus Quinn
Let the Wind Rise, Shannon Messenger
The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
Soldier, Julie Kagawa
The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi


March Recap: Book Releases and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links and March 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



Interesting Links:

Book Releases


Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

March 1
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl, Paige McKenzie, Alyssa Sheinmel
Blood Passage, Heather Demetrios
Borderline, Mishell Baker
Burning Glass, Kathryn Purdie
Chaos Choreography, Seanan McGuire
Charmed, Jen Calonita
Fairy Tale Fashion, Colleen Hill, Patricia Mears, Ellen Sampson, Kiera Vaclavik
Forest of Wonders, Linda Sue Park
The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, Catherynne M. Valente ill. Ana Juan
Into the Dim, Janet B. Taylor
Midnight Marked, Chloe Neill
Owl and the City of Angels, Kristi Charish
The Seer, Sonia Lyris
Seven Black Diamonds, Melissa Marr
Siren’s Song, Mary Weber

March 8
The Book of Forbidden Wisdom, Gillian Murray Kendall
Fire Touched, Patricia Briggs
The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins
Hour of the Bees, Lindsay Eagar
The Keeper of the Mist, Rachel Neumeier
Lady Midnight, Cassandra Clare
The Lyre Thief, Jennifer Fallon
Map of Fates, Maggie Hall
Marked in Flesh, Anne Bishop
Maybe a Fox, Kathi Appelt, Alison McGhee
Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton
The Return of the Witch, Paula Brackston
The Secrets of Solace, Jaleigh Johnson
The Steep and Thorny Way, Cat Winters
A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls, Ed. Jessica Spotswood
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi

March 15
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, Janet Fox
Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, Ursula Vernon
I Want a Monster!, Elise Gravel
The Winged Histories, Sofia Samatar
Yellow Brick War, Danielle Paige

March 22
Broken Crowns, Lauren DeStefano
The Hidden Twin, Adi Rule
I Woke Up Dead at the Mall, Judy Sheehan
Shadow and Flame, Gail Z. Martin
The Skylighter, Becky Wallace
Wink Poppy Midnight, April Genevieve Tucholke

March 29
Battlestorm, Susan Krinard
Half Lost, Sally Green
Sisters of Salt and Iron, Kady Cross
A Tangle of Gold, Jaclyn Moriarty
The Winner’s Kiss, Marie Rutkoski


Book Club: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez


Each year, Sirens chair Amy Tenbrink posts monthly reviews of new-to-her books from the annual Sirens reading list. You can find all of her Sirens Book Club reviews at the Sirens Goodreads Group. We invite you to read along and discuss!

In 2009, on the very first evening of the very first Sirens, Tamora Pierce presented our very first Guest of Honor keynote address. And for more than three hours – long after many of the East Coast Sirens attendees went reluctantly to bed – Tammy regaled Sirens with her personal history of women in feminist fantasy literature: books and authors that she loved and that had changed her perspectives as a writer.

I often think that, were I do give my version of Tammy’s speech, my personal history of women in feminist fantasy literature would start, with few exceptions, around the year 2000. I read young-readers fantasy as a kid: Mary Poppins, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, The Wizard of Oz. I encountered Narnia in junior high, stubbornly plowed my way through Tolkien in high school, and then more or less abandoned fantasy until after law school. I missed Tammy’s work for decades – not to mention the work of pretty much every other woman who published fantasy books before, give or take, the year 2000. I came back to fantasy through YA: Harry Potter, Tithe, and Tammy’s later work.

But it’s interesting, isn’t it? How reader preferences change over time? How reader expectations change over time? I am rather well-read in the women-in-fantasy space post-2000. I read widely, voraciously, across subgenres and categories. But I still haven’t gone back to pick up many of those fantasy works publishing prior to 2000. Which is challenging because, as any historian will tell you, how can you possibly understand where we are if you don’t understand where we were?

In 1991, most of the published fantasy works by women were high fantasy adventures, often with quasi-romance covers, about white heroines, with white male lovers, in often exclusively white fantasy worlds. And in 1991, Jewelle Gomez didn’t just storm into a breach in that history: she created an incredibly wide breach of her own.

The Gilda Stories features a protagonist that is black, a lesbian, and a vampire. It depicts slavery. It addresses racism and homophobia. It is unrepentantly feminist. It has a profound, prominent theme of found family. As Gomez explains, the book was rejected over and over again, including by a publisher who stated: “The character is black. She’s a lesbian. And she’s a vampire. That’s too complicated.”

I believe – and often proclaim at Sirens – that the very best thing about fantasy literature is the opportunity to create a world that addresses all the exclusionary issues so prevalent in our own: to allow women to rule, to allow lesbians to love, to allow heroes to have brown faces, to allow a variety of strengths and ambitions and powers. To center a novel around a black, lesbian vampire. And yet, Gomez says, “In the first round with Gilda, I had to convince people that it was a legitimate genre for me to use for the stories I had to tell.”

So let me tell you a bit about Gilda, in the hopes that you’ll add it to your own personal history of feminist fantasy literature:

Gilda opens in Louisiana in 1850. Our then-unnamed protagonist is found, having killed a man who tried to rape her, by Gilda: a powerful woman who runs a brothel. Our protagonist goes to work in the brothel, not as a sex worker, but as a sort of Girl Friday, doing odd jobs. She forms a powerful relationship both with Gilda and Bird, Gilda’s Native American lieutenant and lover. Not to give too much away, but Gilda and Bird are vampires and turn our protagonist into a vampire as well – almost simultaneously with Gilda’s deciding that she’s finished with life. She commits suicide, and somewhat strangely, our protagonist takes her name.

Gilda is told linearly, but not consecutively: a series of stories that depict Gilda’s unending life across both two centuries and much of the United States: from Louisiana to California to Missouri to New York City to New Mexico. Along the way, Gilda struggles to figure out, well, life – and the irony of a vampire figuring out life is half the beauty of the conceit. How to find family when you’re immortal? How to love? How to kill? Whether to bring anyone else into the vampire life? How to move past regret? What she hopes for the future? How to be something “other” in a world that values homogeny?

Where Gilda stumbles is the writing. While Gilda’s story is fundamentally fascinating – her hard-won wisdom, her evolution, her assembling her family – it’s hard to connect with Gilda. The book keeps the reader at a distance, often telling rather than showing, and sometimes moving at snail’s pace while we spend pages wrapped in Gilda’s head. The book could have used a stronger editing hand, to address both the aforementioned issues, but also to clean up the text: for example, almost every character in the book is a woman, and the feminine pronouns often lead to reader confusion.

But none of that diminishes Gilda’s place in the history of feminist fantasy literature: its profoundly intersectional approach twenty-five years ago. What do you think? Will you add it to your personal history of feminist fantasy literature?



Amy Tenbrink spends her days handling content distribution and intellectual property transactions for an entertainment company. Her nights and weekends over the last twenty years have involved managing a wide variety of events, including theatrical productions, marching band shows, sporting events, and interdisciplinary conferences. Most recently, she has organized three Harry Potter conferences (The Witching Hour, in Salem, Massachusetts; Phoenix Rising, in the French Quarter of New Orleans; and Terminus, in downtown Chicago) and six years of Sirens. Her experience includes all aspects of event planning, from logistics and marketing to legal consulting and budget management, and she holds degrees with honors from both the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and the Georgetown University Law Center. She likes nothing so much as monster girls, Weasleys, and a well-planned revolution.


February Recap: Book Releases and Interesting Links

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of interesting links and February 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



Interesting Links:

Book Releases


Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

February 1:
Baker’s Magic, Diane Zahler
The Sapphire Cutlass, Sharon Gosling

February 2:
Assassin’s Heart, Sarah Ahiers
A Criminal Magic, Lee Kelly
Games Wizards Play, Diane Duane
The Guardian Herd: Landfall, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Kingfisher, Patricia A. McKillip
Revenge and the Wild, Michelle Modesto
Unhooked, Lisa Maxwell

February 9:
The Abyss Surrounds Us, Emily Skrutskie
Blackhearts, Nicole Castroman
Bloom, Doreen Cronin, ill. David Small
The Extincts, Veronica Cossanteli, Roman Muradov
Fridays with the Wizards, Jessica Day George
Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard
The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, ill. LeUyen Pham
Ravenous, MarcyKate Connolly
Reign of Shadows, Sophie Jordan
These Vicious Masks, Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas
The Witches of Cambridge, Menna van Praag

February 16:
The Circle of Lies, Crystal Velasquez
The Girl From Everywhere, Heidi Heilig
The Immortals, Jordanna Max Brodsky
Riders, Veronica Rossi
The Shadow Queen, C. J. Redwine

February 23:
A Gathering of Shadows, V. E. Schwab
Behold the Bones, Natalie C. Parker
The Dastardly Deed, Holly Grant, ill. Josie Portillo
Dreamfever, Kit Alloway
Firstlife, Gena Showalter
The Forbidden Wish, Jessica Khoury
The Key to Extraordinary, Natalie Lloyd
Kingdom of Ashes, Rhiannon Thomas
Longbow Girl, Linda Davies
Titans, Victoria Scott


The Effect of Sirens Scholarships

By Gillian C. (@gnomes_g)

Receiving a scholarship to attend Sirens last year meant so much to me: I’m a grad student, and I live on a very small income. I have to plan very carefully to be able to afford any travel, and the scholarship made all of the difference for me. I look forward to Sirens all year, and it was a weight off my mind to know that I could go without having to worry as much about the cost.

Sirens Meet-Up: New York City

Once a year just isn’t enough, right? While nothing will replace the awesomeness of four days of Sirens in October, we thought some tea in New York City—and later some whiskey in Denver—might be a nice way for the Sirens community to connect in the meantime. Want to join us?

We’re hosting two casual get-togethers for the Sirens community—and you need not have attended Sirens in the past to join us. Are you new and curious? Heard of us but haven’t made it to Sirens yet? Wondering if our community is for you? Come on down! And bring your book recommendations, your friends, and your questions about Sirens.

New York City
Date: Sunday, May 22, 2016
Time: 2:00–4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Tentatively Radiance at 158 West 55th Street, NY between 6th & 7th Avenue –depending on how many people RSVP

Notes: Participants must pay for their own tea and afternoon snacks. And our Denver gathering will be later this summer, in July or August.

If you think you might join us, please RSVP to either @sirens_con on Twitter, here on Facebook, or to Faye at ( at

We can’t wait to see some new and familiar faces!

The Inclusiveness of Sirens Scholarships

By Shveta Thakrar (@ShvetaThakrar)

Sirens is a conference that means so much to me. I love fantasy, I love intersectional feminism, I love enchantment and wonder and ideas. Sirens has all these things. It is a place where people can go to discuss being queer, being brown, being disabled, being neuroatypical, being a woman or a nonbinary person in fantasy literature—all within a framework that actively seeks to include voices traditionally shut out or even silenced elsewhere.

But Sirens is also just plain fun. It’s a place to celebrate with fellow fans. People who love unicorns and nagas and epic series get together to geek out over the use of language and fashion in books, host workshops on fencing and sewing, trade book and author recommendations while wearing gorgeous costumes. They drink tea and laugh and make friends. They form community.

Not everyone can afford to attend, however, and I can say that Sirens really does make an effort to help ease the financial burden for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part by providing scholarships. But it needs donations to do that. If you can, would you consider contributing toward a scholarship to allow another voice to be heard?

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 8, Issue 2 (May 2016)

In this issue:


Dear Sirens,

We’re so happy to be back and at it for Sirens 2016—and we welcome you to another full year of great books to read, heated debates to have, and brilliant people to meet. To get started, check out our Mission Post for this year, and find out more about the 2016 theme, lovers. And don’t forget, here are some important announcements with fast-approaching deadlines!


Most programming for Sirens is conceived and presented by attendees. You create it, you propose it, and—when approved by our vetting board—you present it. That means we’d love to hear from you! There’s no requirement to become a presenter; anyone and everyone is welcome to propose and present programming.

Check out our Annual Programming Series (here’s Part One), our list of #SirensBrainstorm topics on Twitter, free for the taking, and everything you need to know on our Programming and Proposals pages on the Sirens website. The deadline for proposals is May 9, 2016.


Last year, the Sirens community raised almost $2,500 to help people of color, presenters, and those with financial hardships attend Sirens. In-person attendance requires funds—which means that not everyone who wishes to is able to join us. Their absence makes both our conference and our community less vibrant. At the time of this newsletter, we’re almost to 60% of our goal, more than halfway there! And if you’re wondering if Sirens scholarships make a difference, please read what Lisa M. Bradley, a 2015 scholarship recipient, has to say.

We’re accepting donations until May 9, 2016. Will you donate to help welcome more voices to Sirens?




What is Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reading this month? Check out her review of Heidi Heilig’s The Girl From Everywhere over on Goodreads. “Read it for: the world-building and the wonderfully diverse characters and the last act…You can totally read this as a stand-alone and be perfectly happy.”




Introducing Read Along with Faye, a new series in which Sirens staff member Faye Bi reads her way through the 2016 Reading Challenge. First up, Jennifer Marie Brissett’s Elysium, which Faye found “parts emotional rollercoaster, ambitious post-apocalyptic world-building and, ultimately, a saga of love and loss.”



Our Annual Programming Series:



Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at and questions about programming to (programming at


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