Archive for October 2019

Get Ready for Sirens

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 11, Issue 10: October 2019

This month:


Get Ready for Sirens

Sirens is coming up furiously fast, and if you’re attending the Studio, you’re possibly already en route! To ensure the best Sirens ever, have a look at these housekeeping items before you head off to Denver!


Instruction Emails

This past week, we sent out detailed instruction emails for the Sirens Shuttle, the Sirens Studio, the Sirens Supper, and registration check-in. Presenters should have also received an email with information and tips. If you emailed us about dietary concerns and haven’t received a response, and for any other missing emails, please contact us at (help at


Contacting Us During Sirens

Many staff members have already arrived in Colorado and are in the thick of Sirens preparations. While we’re unpacking materials and setting up for the conference, we won’t be able to monitor our emails as closely as we normally would. If you have an urgent question prior to arriving on-site, please email (help at and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Once the conference starts, the easiest way to reach us is in person! If you have any questions or simply want to chat, our information desk in Alpine 1 will be open starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 24.



We will be tweeting with all our might at our @sirens_con handle as Sirens gets underway! We’ll be sharing programming schedule reminders, snippets from each session, and other goings-on at the conference. If you prefer not to receive these notifications, you can mute us and check back on Monday, October 28.


In Case You Missed It…

In case you missed it, we’ve rounded up some important highlights from our posts this year:

Guest of Honor Interviews:

Studio Faculty Interviews:

Books and Breakfast Spotlights:

Community Interviews:

Sirens Essay Series

Essay Series:

Also in the news:


Rake Up Some Fall Reading

To whet your appetite right before the Sirens Bookstore opens, take a look at these new October releases by women and nonbinary authors!

Erynn’s Pick:

The Library of the Unwritten

Somewhere in the lesser known levels of Hell is a library full of all the books that never made it to completion. Keeping them organized, mended, and shelved is more than a simple job for the Head Librarian, Claire, as such stories are not keen to sit still for long. Claire must go chasing after an AWOL Hero, with the help of a former muse and a demon courier. Penned by Sirens attendee, A.J. Hackwith, The Library of the Unwritten is the first installment in a series of deliciously fun stories featuring librarians at the forefront of a Heaven and Hell power struggle.


Faye’s Pick:


Though narrowly missing Mid-Autumn Festival this year, I couldn’t be more excited by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu’s queer, adorable, and magical graphic novel Mooncakes. It features two Chinese Americans: Nova, a witch and hard-of-hearing, and Tam, a nonbinary werewolf—because intersectionalism! Listen, this is a celebration of unconventional families, bookshops, cute towns, banter the Gilmore Girls would be proud of, and baking! Do I need to say more?


This newsletter is brought to you by:

Erynn Moss + Faye Bi

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


Everything you need to know to survive Denver’s high-plains desert climate

For those of you who’ve attended previous Sirens in Vail and Beaver Creek, this year’s conference in Denver may be a respite. After all, we’ll be 3000 feet lower in elevation!

At 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver’s altitude is exactly one mile high—but Denver is not actually in the mountains. Even though Denver’s elevation does not give rise to altitude sickness or other health concerns associated with mountain towns (most airplane cabins are pressurized between 5,000–8,000 feet as a safe and healthy range for most people), we beseech you to not be complacent—as much of Colorado is actually a high-plains desert. What does this mean?

Here’s our hard-won advice:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink water early and often—you can even drink a sports drink, with electrolytes, for an extra boost. Even better, start increasing your water intake a few days before traveling to Sirens to help your body adjust more easily. Remember: it’s easier to prevent dehydration in the first place than to recover from its effects! And we’ve got you covered: we’ll have Sirens water bottles for sale in our community room, with some of our fabulous artwork.

  • Balm it up. Because of the lack of moisture in the air, you might need to apply extra lip balm, nasal spray, eye drops, and lotion to keep yourself comfortable.

  • Eat a snack. May your bellies be full. Even at Denver’s altitude, you might have a bigger appetite than you would normally—your body is working extra hard to compensate for less oxygen and lower temperatures.

  • Be aware of the sun. Here, the air is thinner, making you more susceptible to sunburn—so make sure that you cover up and apply sunscreen if you’re going for a walk or lounging outside. Bring your sunglasses, too! Believe us, your eyes can burn.

  • Take it easy. Did we mention the air is thinner? That means there is less oxygen going to your brain—so you’ll breathe faster to compensate, at least while you adjust. If you notice that you’re fatigued more quickly while exercising or climbing stairs, give yourself a little extra time to adjust to your environment.

  • You might need more sleep than usual. You might be really tired from the plane ride in, or the opposite and suffering from jetlag. It’s often the case that your sleep patterns change when you travel, but it never hurts to take a nap when you’re a mile up!

  • Alcohol will have a greater effect on you, so imbibe judiciously. One drink at sea level equals at least two in Denver. Please consider moderating your drinking—and drink plenty of water during and afterwards. If not, your headache the next morning probably isn’t altitude sickness; it’s a hangover. (And if you complain, we will be tempted to give you the side-eye…)

  • If you feel a headache coming in, up your fluid intake and try taking ordinary painkillers. Chances are, you’ll feel much better with some rest, too.

For more information, you can check out our page on Denver. Any other questions, please contact us at (help at We’re looking forward to seeing you all next week, and we want your experience at Sirens to be amazing!

Previous versions of this post ran in October 2017 and October 2018.


The 11 tips and tricks every first-time Sirens attendee should know

In a week, our Sirens Studio attendees will begin descending on Denver for our 11th annual Sirens, with the rest of you soon to follow! And while there might be familiar faces to greet, there are many of you for whom this will be your first Sirens! So read on for some tips, tricks, and general things to know before you start your journey to Colorado:

  1. Follow us on Twitter at @sirens_con and the event hashtag #Sirens19 (if you haven’t already!). We’ll be tweeting our full programming schedule, last-minute changes, quotes from presenters and guests, pictures of things like auction items, and more!

  2. Visit us at the Information Desk. Located in room Alpine 1, also home to our community room, Sirens staff members will be available to chat, answer questions, and help you with almost anything you need. This is also where you will pick up your conference badge and registration bag!

  3. Find a Sirens Ambassador. We’ve appointed 15 seasoned attendees as Sirens ambassadors, specifically so our new attendees will be able to find a friendly face in the crowd. Our ambassadors will be wearing a special button when they’re available for conversations. Feel free to pepper them with your questions or find them when you’re feeling adrift or out of place—they’re here to help!

  4. Start a conversation. Everyone at Sirens is a reader. Whether you’re waiting for the shuttle, lounging in the hotel lobby, or eating at a table, it’s easy to use book talk to break the ice.

  5. Attend programming. Sirens’s programming is presented by our attendees, for our attendees—and as everyone’s voice at Sirens is vital to our community, our presenters include readers, librarians, and educators, as well as the scholars, authors, and professionals that you might be expecting. Check out our full schedule and our summaries of programming, geek out over what’s being offered, and plan out your day. Conversations are highly encouraged in between sessions, and sometimes even during sessions, like in the case of roundtables or Q&As.

  6. Seating is open. Feel free to sit anywhere while at programming, Books and Breakfast, Bedtime Stories, the community room, or at meals—but please leave the seating closest to doors and aisles open for attendees who might need a closer seat or some extra room to maneuver.

  7. Looking for a group for dinner? Check the program book. We’ll have a list of meet-up times and locations, as well as a list of dining recommendations.

  8. We have a bookstore, specially stocked with over a thousand fantasy titles by women and nonbinary authors. If you want recommendations, we’re holding Books with Sirens at 2:00 p.m. on Friday and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday in the community room, when Amy will try to sell you books upon books. A word of warning: we’re pretty good at it—some people save their book money all year for our bookstore and some bring a second suitcase to take their treasures home! Shipping is also available for a fee (media mail, in the United States only).

  9. We have an auction, of amazing items, some hand-crafted, some one-of-a-kind, some that you simply won’t want to leave behind. The proceeds are crucial to covering a large portion of Sirens’s expenses and keeping our prices down. Your registration bag will include information about the auction and a list of offered items. We hope you’ll bid early and often!

  10. Check out our accessibility policy. Sirens is committed to making the conference accessible for a variety of individuals, but we need your help to do so. Please take a look at our accessibility policy (and also printed in your program book), and then consider how you might help make Sirens accessible for others.

  11. Bring a bathing suit! And your running shoes! There is an indoor pool and hot tub right next to the spa, as well as a nearby jogging trail. Speaking of the spa, please mention Sirens and receive a 10% discount off all services and retail products!

Any more questions? Please do come find us at the Information Desk starting:

Thursday, October 24 at 3:00 p.m.
Alpine 1 (lobby level)
Hilton Inverness

We can’t wait to meet you at Sirens!

Previous versions of this post ran in October 2017 and October 2018.


Six Contemporary Twists on Non-Western Myths

The Sirens Review Squad is made up of Sirens volunteers, who submit short reviews of books (often fantasy literature by women or nonbinary authors) they’ve read and enjoyed. If you’re interested in sending us a book list or review to run on the blog, please email us! Today, we’re introduced to six contemporary twists on non-western myths by writer and indie bookseller Casey Blair.

I love when the fantastic intrudes on our everyday world, the idea that magic can be waiting around any corner. There have been countless contemporary fantasies featuring fae over the years, and I’m beyond delighted that twists on non-western myths are growing in the market! These are some of my recent favorites.


Aru Shah and the End of Time
1. Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Hilarity and adventure combine with the tragically relatable realities of middle school in this action-packed story of friendship and sisterhood. Roshani Chokshi brings Vedic mythology and tales from the Mahabharata to glorious life.

Akata Witch
2. Akata Witch (Book #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

A black albino girl who is an incredible athlete but struggles outside moves from the US to Nigeria, where she discovers she has unique magical powers and joins a secret group of fellow teens also learning their way around this brilliant world of Nigerian folklore.

Wicked Fox
3. Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho

Set in modern Seoul, this book smashes YA and Kdrama tropes together magnificently. Fox spirits, ghosts, romance, misunderstandings, family drama, poignant friendships, and complicated definitions of heroism and villainy abound.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
4. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

I am a sucker for Journey to the West adaptations. On top of being a fantastic take on Chinese mythology, this book features a heroine who not only gets to punch absolutely everyone who deserves it, she’s a champion at setting boundaries and holding people accountable. And she navigates it all while figuring out how her friendships are changing and applying for college.

Love Sugar Magic
5. Love Sugar Magic Book 1: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

The power of family, baking, and Mexican magic and how they all overlap come alive in this delightful story of a girl who is desperately sure she is ready to be treated as an adult and then has to deal with the consequences accordingly.

Trail of Lightning
6. Trail of Lightning (Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

This urban fantasy adventure is not only brimming with Navajo folklore, it’s also one of the best takes on the monstrous feminine I’ve ever read. Rebecca Roanhorse delivers both awesome action and moments that stab the reader straight in the heart.

Casey Blair is an indie bookseller who writes speculative fiction novels for adults and teens, and her weekly serial fantasy novel Tea Princess Chronicles is available online for free. She is a graduate of Vassar College and of the Viable Paradise residential science fiction and fantasy writing workshop. After teaching English in rural Japan for two years, she relocated to the Seattle area. She is prone to spontaneous dancing, exploring ancient cities around the world, wandering and adventuring through forests, spoiling cats terribly, and drinking inordinate amounts of tea late into the night.


New Fantasy Books: October 2019

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of October 2019 fantasy book releases by and about women and nonbinary folk. Let us know what you’re looking forward to, or any titles that we’ve missed, in the comments!

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.


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