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Why inclusive heroism is not just suggested, but essential

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 11, Issue 5: May 2019

This month:

 

What does heroism mean to Roshani Chokshi?

“To me, heroism is the act of celebrating the individual. There’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the Chosen One.” – Roshani Chokshi

Continuing our series of getting to know this year’s guests of honor, this month we’re getting to know our first ever Sirens Studio guest, Roshani Chokshi, known for the Star-Touched series, the Pandava series, and The Gilded Wolves.

In our interview, Roshani extolls most eloquently the way a hero’s weakness is possibly more important than her strength. And while storytelling may have created important bridges in her own identity, it took some overcoming to insert herself into her own narratives. Jae Young Kim, from the Sirens review squad, praises Roshani’s tales in her review of Aru Shah and the End of Time, and our community rallies to share their favorite sarcastic animal sidekick in fantasy in our #SirensIcebreaker.

If you finish Roshani’s books and need to get cozy in some more of her work, visit this list we put together here, or check out some of her book recommendations here. We also advise poking around on her enticing website, roshanichokshi.com, or be floored by the most glamorous of fantasy author Instagrams!

 

Sirens Studio Faculty Spotlight

If you haven’t yet signed up for the Sirens Studio, well, why not? Faculty this year include:

  • For reading workshops: teacher and author Nia Davenport, Soho Press Associate Publisher and brand-new debut author Juliet Grames, Dr. Jen Michaels, and Sirens Guest of Honor Rebecca Roanhorse

  • For writing workshops: Sirens Guest of Honor Mishell Baker and author and illustrator Nilah Magruder

  • For career development workshops: agent Sara Megibow and media industry executive vice president (and Sirens co-founder) Amy Tenbrink

Buy your tickets here!

This month, we interviewed fabulous faculty member, Nilah Magruder, who will lead the writing development workshop “The Visual Narrative: Developing Illustrated Projects and How to Write Like an Artist” this fall. Nilah discusses finding inspiration sources for her artistic styles, teaching writers to bridge narrative and visual story, and who she still needs to send copies of her books to. [Note from Erynn: Nilah’s How to Find a Fox is the only book on the Sirens reading list my toddler has finished. He recommends.]

 

2019 Books and Breakfast Selections

Each year, Sirens showcases the breadth and complexity of our annual theme through our Books and Breakfast program. We select a number of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books that address aspects of our theme, and then attendees bring their breakfast and join a table to discuss one of those books—another chance to deconstruct, interrogate, and celebrate the work that women and nonbinary authors are doing in fantasy literature!

For 2019, we’ve selected eight 2019 Books and Breakfast titles that we hope will expand your definition of who might be a hero or what acts you consider heroic. Toward that end, we’re highlighting four areas in this year’s selections: religion, race, gender/sexuality, and body—and please note that some titles sit on multiple axes, not just the one they’re listed under!

2019 BOOKS AND BREAKFAST SELECTIONS

Religion

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

Race

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Gender/Sexuality

Dreadnought by April Daniels
The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Body

Faith Volume 1: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Marguerite Sauvage
Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge

Click here for more on our Books and Breakfast program and this year’s selections, including a detailed spotlight on The Bird King and The Sisters of the Winter Wood!

 

Programming proposal submissions are officially closed…

…and the vetting board is hard at work reading all the amazing submissions. Fist bumps of gratitude to everyone who sent in proposals! Decisions will be made and relayed to you by email by June 12th. If you have any questions in the meantime, send them to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Sirens Community Round-up

For her book club this month, Amy Tenbrink reviewed Claire Legrand’s Furyborn, with exceptional praise on the satisfaction from a “competent” book, on the blog and Goodreads.

From our Sirens Review Squad, Lily Weitzman put together this list of seven short stories to refresh readers in need of variety, and Jo O’Brien’s review of Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, a companion to Mary Shelley’s classic, envisions the struggle to break free from toxicity and reclaim personal power.

Scroll through the official Sirens Twitter feed to admire all the geeky treats from the May the Fourth Sirens Meet-up in Denver! Other Sirens satellite parties joined up in New York and Seattle this month. For those who will be in Boston on June 6th or D.C. on June 22nd, click here to get the scoop on those meet-ups.

 

Start your summer with these 66 new books this month

By clicking on our collage of May’s new fantasy books!

Erynn’s Pick:

The Devil's Guide to Managing Difficult People

“I met the devil at a Motel 6, poolside.”

Cheeky author and Sirens attendee Robyn Bennis has delightfully captured the misanthropic esprit de 2019 with The Devil’s Guide to Managing Difficult People. Jordan is stuck in a bleakly entertaining deal with the devil that is highly relatable. If it’s at all like her previous novel The Guns Above, I expect great characters and battles on top of the humor.

 

Faye’s Pick:

The Dark Fantastic

Dr. Suzanne Scott mentioned it in her book round-up last month, and I’ll definitely be checking out Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s The Dark Fantastic, a detailed analysis of the diversity—and lack thereof—in children’s books, television, and film. Thomas’s scholarly work traces the narratives of four black female characters in four popular fandoms: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from the Harry Potter series.

 

This newsletter is brought to you by:

Erynn Moss + Faye Bi


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

 

How do heroes confront power structures?

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 11, Issue 4: April 2019

This month:

 

What does heroism mean to Dr. Suzanne Scott?

“Heroism, at least from my perspective, is about the defiance of expectations…all heroes force us to grapple with how the normative is entrenched, and our own relationship to hegemonic power.” – Dr. Suzanne Scott

If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, just pop over to Suzanne’s faculty bio on the University of Texas website, which reads like a Sirens wishlist. And as if that’s not enough to get you super excited for our first-ever scholar Guest of Honor in October, check out our interview with Suzanne where we talk fandom, feminism, cosplay, Cordelia Chase, and more on her role as a Professor of “Geek Culture”.” You can also read a review of Suzanne’s book, Fake Geek Girls: Fandom, Gender, and the Convergence Culture Industry from our review squad, and you can find some more of Suzanne’s academic writing around the web, which we’ve compiled here. In honor of Suzanne, check out people’s #SirensIcebreaker on their favorite or most memorable fandom experience. Last but not least, take a crash course in fan and media studies with a list of Suzanne-recommended works.

 

The Programming Proposal Window is Open (Until May 15th)!

Sirens’s amazing, magnificent, you-have-to-see-this programming is proposed by…attendees! That means you! (No, you don’t have to be registered to propose programming, only planning to attend—or planning to attend if your proposal is accepted.)

You have an amazing fantastic must-be-discussed topic for this year’s Sirens! Great!

Are you ready to tell us about it? Submit your proposals here.

Do you have questions about types of presentations and what you need to submit? The guidelines are here.

It’s good, but you need to bounce your ideas around or find some collaborators? Visit us on Twitter or our unofficial Facebook group to connect with other Sirens. Or join the upcoming chat on May 13th, from 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific).

You’d like to submit, but on what? Find some ideas to spark your imagination on Twitter at #SirensBrainstorm.

Want to get to know this year’s Vetting Board? We chat with a few of them here.

 

Sirens Studio, Get to Know Your Faculty: Amy Tenbrink

You might know Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink, but do you know about her ass-kicking career powers? We interviewed her earlier this month to find out what drives this legendary lady and what Studio attendees can expect from her career development intensive, “Negotiating Your Professional Life.” “Unless you’re willing to sacrifice your ambition, your assertiveness, and your self-respect, I recommend that you start getting comfortable with the idea that you will sometimes make any number of people…very uncomfortable.” Also, check out her thoughts of Mingmei Yip’s The Witch’s Market for her book club read this month on the blog and Goodreads.

 

By You, For You

The Sirens Review Squad is made up of Sirens volunteers, who submit short reviews of books they’ve read and enjoyed! This month, we’re lucky to have two indie booksellers stop by with recs, as if you needed more books to add to your shelf.

The Beast Player

Casey Blair reads, reviews, and waxes poetic on Nahoko Uehashi’s The Beast Player, translated into English by Cathy Hirano. It’s “a coming-of-age story, but it is also a meditation on, in particular, what it means to be free.” Full review here.

 

Inkheart

Celebrate the joy of reading with Sami Thomason’s list of 7 Fantasy Books for Bibliophiles, “from middle grade to young adult to adult, about enchanted books, magical libraries, and the power of the written word.” Read the full list here.

 

Heads Up

  • Sirens Studio is filling up because of course it is. Have you seen this year’s faculty? This is going to be awesome, so get your ticket today.

  • Missed the Programming Chat? There will be one more May 13th!

  • Programming Scholarships: our fabulous community raised funds for three scholarships for presenters, and now is the time to apply! Simply specify your interest in being considered when you submit your programming proposals, which again, are due May 15th.

  • But October is too faaaar! Fear not, this May you can attend a Sirens Meet-Up in Denver (May the Fourth Dessert Party!) or New York (BYOBlanket and picnic!).  Details for Seattle on May 25, Boston on June 6, and D.C. on June 22 coming soon!

 

Look at all the fresh spring books blooming this month

By clicking on our collage of April’s new fantasy books!

Erynn’s Pick:

A True Blue Idea

I was drawn to this book by what looked like the traditional tarot High Priestess relaxing in her off-time on the cover. However, Marina Colasanti’s A True Blue Idea is actually a collection of ten short, illustrated, and often dark fairy tales by a long-established Brazilian author/artist only now being translated into English. Her poetic style utilizes irony and symbolism, and her work has been described as “feminist utopian fiction” and a “unique blend of the poetic and the socially conscious.”

 

Faye’s Pick:

Pilu of the Woods

Sometimes, all I need is a heartwarming graphic novel with adorable art to make me have faith in the world again. In Mai K. Nguyen’s Pilu of the Woods, Willow gets into a fight with her big sister, and runs away to the woods, where she meets a forest spirit named Pilu. Call me millennial mush, but I’m in full favor of acknowledging, naming, and feeling all the feelings for the good of one’s emotional health. This one is a purported gem about grief, growing up, nature, and family. And there’s a dog, too!

 

This newsletter was put together by:

Erynn Moss + Faye Bi


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

 

Spotlight on our 2019 Vetting Board

The 2019 programming season is in full swing, and we hope you’re busy preparing your proposals! Sirens relies on the expertise of an independent vetting board to review all proposals for thoughtfulness, relevance, and inclusiveness, and to select the programming to be included in our conference schedule. Members of the vetting board represent experience and achievement in fields where we expect to receive the majority of our proposals. This year’s vetting board members are: Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Alyssa Collins, Ruqayyah Daud, Sharon K. Goetz, Joy Kim, and Yoon Ha Lee, and you can read the full biographies of our vetting board members here. We were lucky enough to chat with a few of them and get a peek into their work—and how it relates to women and nonbinary folk in fantasy literature—below.

 

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

KINITRA: I am proudest of being considered a Beyoncé scholar!

JOY: When I look back at my career, I find that the moments that stand out for me are less about specific accomplishments and events and more about people and relationships. I’m especially proud of the impact that I’ve had as a leader and manager in helping my team members do great work and advance in their own careers. I’ve met amazing mentors during my own professional journeys, and I have a strong commitment to continuing to pay that support forward.

 

What topics in fantasy fiction are you exploring right now?

KINITRA: The Conjure Woman in Popular Culture.

RUQAYYAH: I am looking to read more in the middle-grade category because I am not that well read in it but it has so much to offer! Some of my favorites are The School for Good and Evil series and the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend.

 

What’s a topic you’d love to see someone submit for programming at Sirens?

JOY: In 2018, I moved across the country from Washington to Massachusetts for an amazing new job. While I’m enjoying my new job and city, I do still miss the Pacific Northwest sometimes, and that’s left me thinking a lot about the idea of home. I’ve always enjoyed stories with a strong sense of place—It’s one of the things that often draws me to fantasy—so I’d love to see a proposal exploring the concept of place attachment and how that specifically intersects with Sirens’ overall theme of women in fantasy literature.

YOON: I’d love to hear more about women in fantasy outside the West, in whatever format (TV, comics/manga/manhua/manhwa/etc., books, etc.), as well as more about representation of nonbinary/genderqueer characters and authors.

 

Could you tell us about a really exemplary presentation you’ve attended at Sirens?

KINITRA: The Bullet Journal presentation has started a new obsession in my life. I really enjoyed the lock-picking class even though I never successfully picked any of the locks.

 

What have you been reading lately?

KINITRA: I have been reading Harrow County, the comic book series. There is a Conjure Woman character I find quite interesting.

RUQAYYAH: I’m currently reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black which I’ve wanted to read ever since I was introduced to Holly’s writing through The Cruel Prince. I’m so excited to dive into a vampire book again! But my favorite science fiction/fantasy book right now is Mirage by Somaiya Daud, and I’m pumped for the sequel.

YOON: I’m currently reading Sonya Taaffe’s gorgeous, sea-flavored and queer-tinted fantasy collection Forget the Sleepless Shores, whose stories variously feature sea creatures, angels, scholars, and a dybbuk. Highly recommended.

 

We welcome proposals from all Sirens attendees and potential Sirens attendees, and we hope that our programming schedule will include presenters with a wide variety of perspectives, experiences, identities, and vocations. We are accepting proposals from April 4 to May 15. For more information, please read an overview of how Sirens programming works and our tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions. For details on each programming type, please click the following links to be taken to their respective posts: papers/lectures, panels, roundtable discussions and workshops/afternoon classes.

 

What does heroism mean to you?

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 11, Issue 3: March 2019 (Programming Edition)

This month:

 

What does heroism mean to you? We asked each of our 2019 Guests of Honor this question as part of our annual interview series.

Mishell Baker

“A hero is someone who is told, ‘You can’t, it’s hopeless, better people than you have failed, turn back now,’ and who decides they’re going to ignore all that and do what’s right anyway. Not because they’re confident they can succeed, but because they simply can’t live with themselves if they don’t at least try.” – Mishell Baker

Kicking off our guest spotlight series, Mishell Baker spoke with us earlier this month on why her heroes have given up on giving up. Borderline is the first book in her The Arcadia Project series, which features indomitable Millie saving us all from otherworldly powers. Check out our review squad’s in-depth look here and Mishell’s list of books with lonely, neurodivergent heroes. We’ve also rounded up more works and interviews by Mishell that you can read here.

 

Ausma Zehanat Khan

“The people I find heroic are often the most marginalized or vulnerable in their societies, with the organs of the state working to harm them further, and they still have the courage to stand up for themselves and others, despite the severe price that will be paid.” – Ausma Zehanat Khan

Just this week, we interviewed Ausma Zehanat Khan, award-winning author of the Khorasan Archives and the Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak mysteries. You can also find some more of Ausma’s work on the web here, read a review of The Bloodprint from one of our Sirens Review Squad members, and check out Ausma’s list of immersive, mythical fantasy books.

 

Dive into Programming Possibilities

It’s March and the quest for brilliant Sirens programming is in full swing! All of Sirens’s programming—the dozens of hours of papers, lectures, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes presented at Sirens each year—is crafted, proposed, and pre-sented by Sirens attendees. And that means you!

Join the ongoing Twitter discussion to get ideas, hone your thoughts, and find collaborators. Looking for ideas? Check out #SirensBrainstorm. Already have some insight on what you’d like to propose but could use a map to light the way? Have no fear, our annual programming series is here! Every-thing you could want to know about presenting at Sirens is included in this six-part series, links below.

Programming submissions are officially open April 4 to May 15. In addition, we’ll be hosting two programming chats on our Chat page, which will be live at the scheduled times:

  • Saturday, April 13, 1–3 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m.–noon Pacific)
  • Monday, May 13, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

 

What Else is Happening

  • Last call for Financial Hardship and Professional Scholarship applications—they are due March 31st! For all the details, visit our Scholarships page.

  • Take a look at people’s picks for favorite grumpy heroines or duos in fantasy in the #SirensIcebreaker.

  • Amy read Fen, the “feral” short story collection by Daisy Johnson, for her book club this month. “Fen is for when you’re ashamed, when you’re furious, when you’re desperate to regain just a piece of yourself from the daily exhaustion of being a woman in a world founded on men’s demands.” Read her full review on the blog or Goodreads.

 

Need more books for your TBR shelf?

Obviously, we are Sirens, so click here for an excellent collage of new titles for March.

Erynn’s Pick:

Courting Darkness

The reviews for Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift give me happy chills. We are promised humane wit and colorful storytelling while following a grand tale of three Zambian families over the course of a century, from their start at a once-colonial settlement near Victoria Falls called The Old Drift. Check out the author’s description here.

 

Faye’s Pick:

The Bird King

G. Willow Wilson’s name on the cover of a book always piques my interest. The Bird King, Wilson’s first novel since 2012’s Alif the Unseen, is set in 1491 in the reign of the last sultanate on the Iberian Peninsula. Epic adventure, magical maps, an ode to the power of stories, and Wilson’s gorgeous writing and weaving of faith, history, and fantasy—what else could a reader ask for?

 

This newsletter was put together by:

Erynn Moss + Faye Bi


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

 

What will it take for women and nonbinary people to be seen as heroic?

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 11, Issue 2: February 2019

This month:

 

Put Your Capes on and Get Your Caps Ready

Thinking caps, that is. Earlier this month we posted “Why Our Sirens 2019 Theme is Heroes.” We ask the question: What will it take for women and nonbinary people to be seen as heroic?

Which means that programming is right around the corner! That’s right, it is February, which means there are less than three months to submit proposals for papers, lectures, panels, roundtables, workshops, afternoon classes, and more!

Sirens probably handles its programming differently than most other conferences or conventions that you know. We don’t invite certain people to sit on panels or give lectures. Instead, we invite everyone to submit presentation proposals—and if selected by our independent vetting board, to present those proposals at Sirens. At Sirens, everyone’s perspectives, identities, thoughts, and voices are critical to our conversations and our conversations value diverse perspectives, identities, and vocations. And that means you!

For more information on how to turn your idea into Sirens-worthy presentations, we’ll be kicking off our annual programming series in March, but to get a head start, visit our Present page. You’ll also want to visit our #SirensBrainstorm hashtag on Twitter for topic ideas that you can take for your proposal, bend or break, reimagine, or use for inspiration.

Present Programming

 

Apply for Sirens Scholarships!

Our amazing community has funded thirteen scholarships for 2019 attendees! For six of those scholarships, the deadline is already fast approaching. Applications for financial hardship and literary professionals are due March 31st. Click below for more information.

Apply for Scholarships

 

Price Jump

On March 1, the cost of a Sirens registration will increase from $225 to $250.

Along with general registration for Sirens, tickets are available now for the Sirens Studio and the Sirens Supper. The prices for these additional tickets will not change, but there are a limited number available, so get yours today!

Buy Tickets

 

February’s 52 Fabulous Fantasy Books

This month, we spotted an impressive number of new books by women and nonbinary people to add to your shelves, and rounded them up in a photo collage.

Erynn’s Pick:

Courting Darkness

Courting Darkness by former Sirens Guest of Honor and Studio Faculty Robin LaFevers is the newest installment in her world of the His Fair Assassin series.

 

Faye’s Pick:

The Night Tiger

In The Night Tiger by Yangzee Choo, an apprentice dressmaker moonlights as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. Magic in 1930s colonial Malaysia? I’m in.

 

This newsletter was put together by:

Erynn Moss + Faye Bi


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 9 (August 2018)

In this issue:

 

GUEST OF HONOR: VIOLET KUPERSMITH

We’re interviewing each of our 2018 Guests of Honor about their inspirations, influences, and craft, as well as the role of women in fantasy literature, as befits their corresponding reunion theme.

You won’t want to miss our illuminating interview with Violet Kupersmith about her family’s experiences and legacy, ghosts, folklore, the Vietnam War, and genre: “In so many ways, the Ghost is the perfect metaphor for the immigrant: both are liminal beings, hovering between worlds, and here, both are feared and other-ed. And I think that there’s something fitting about using a literary genre which is often unfairly dismissed as silly or lowbrow to tell stories about a marginalized people. Each is able to empower the other.”

Also, our feature on Violet includes Alyssa Collins’s review of Violet’s collection of short stories, The Frangipani Hotel, our Book Friends feature, in which we suggest books that would pair well with Violet’s work, and finally, a list of hauntings books selected by Violet herself.

 

MEET THE 2018 SIRENS PROFESSIONAL SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

Two educators, a librarian, and a bookseller chat jobs, books, and what they’re looking forward to at Sirens. Meet Traci-Anne Canada, Nia Davenport, Alexandra Pratt, and Sami Thomason, this year’s—and our first ever—professional scholarship recipients!

 

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE AND PROGRAMMING SUPPORT

The conference schedule for 2018 is live! But are you ready to make your decisions about what to attend? Click here to check it out.

If you see a presentation you particularly love or a presenter you want to support, there’s still time to sponsor our programming sessions; the cost is $35 per presentation. Thank you again for all your support!

 

TICKETS UPDATE

At this time, the Sirens Supper is sold out. Please check our Twitter for updates from attendees who may want to transfer their tickets.

The Sirens Studio currently has 5 spots remaining. Learn more about our pre-conference Sirens Studio here.

Sirens also offers a $115 round-trip shuttle from Denver International Airport to Beaver Creek, significantly cheaper than commercial shuttles which can cost upwards of $200. We encourage you to buy your ticket soon, even if you don’t have flights yet!

Purchase Tickets

 

HOTEL RESERVATIONS

We are quite close to filling our block at the Park Hyatt for the third time. If you have not yet made your hotel reservation, please do so as soon as possible. We have only a few rooms left on the main nights of Sirens, and on October 1, the hotel will release all remaining rooms. Any reservations made after that date will not receive the Sirens discount. For more instructions on how to make your reservation, please visit our Hotel page.

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: GUESTS OF HONOR

To celebrate our conference theme of reunion, we continue to reflect on past conferences and check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. In 2012, our theme was tales retold, and our Guests of Honor were Nalo Hopkinson and Malinda Lo. Read the full post.

2013 was our first reunion year, revisiting warriors, faeries, monsters, and tales retold; our Guests of Honor were Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ellen Kushner, and Robin LaFevers. (Robin is returning to Sirens this year!) Read the full post.

In 2014, our theme was hauntings, and our Guests of Honor were Kendare Blake, Rosemary Clement, and Andrea Hairston. (Rosemary is returning to Sirens this year!) Read the full post.

 

PERSONALIZED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Registered attendees, watch your inboxes for the August attendee news email! For the second time, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink, who has read over a thousand fantasy books by women and nonbinary authors, will be offering personalized book recommendations—but only to the first 50 people to sign up!

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

The Book of Joan

Check out Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink’s rumination on reader, writer, and Lidia Yuknavich’s The Book of Joan, which she found “largely experimental, vaguely feminist, with thinly explained worldbuilding, a non-traditional narrative structure, shifting points of view… and tenuous timelines.” Full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

This month, Faye read Mary Rickert’s The Memory Garden as she surges to finish the 2018 Sirens Reading Challenge! She enjoyed the book’s &ldquo’poetic language, plant symbolism, strong female relationships, rich descriptions of food, and subtle hints of magic,” but there is still more to unpack. Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD

Friend of Sirens Casey Blair wants to sing the praises of Somaiya Daud’s Mirage from the rooftops! “I love its rich setting, a fantasy Morocco-inspired culture in a world with intergalactic travel. I love how deeply that culture suffuses every part of the story: the prose woven through with poetry, the complicated female friendships and family relationships…” Read her full review here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 8 (July 2018)

In this issue:

 

GUEST OF HONOR: KAMERON HURLEY

We’re interviewing each of our 2018 Guests of Honor about their inspirations, influences, and craft, as well as the role of women in fantasy literature, as befits their corresponding reunion theme.

Our incredible interview with Kameron Hurley covered everything from ambitious worldbuilding to personal history, creative versus promotional energy, the writerly life, what revolution looks like for her, and World of Warcraft: “I enjoy playing a defensive character, known as a tank, who can endure an incredible amount of damage and whose role in a multiplayer instance is to protect the rest of the party … This is the same mindset I’ve taken to approaching my writing life. The rejections, the failures, are all hits. I’m a tank. My purpose is to endure until the end.”

Our feature on Kameron also includes Manda Lewis’s review of The Stars Are Legion (in which she called the book “pungent”), our Book Friends feature which suggests books we feel would complement Kameron’s rich body of work, and a revolutionary book list curated by Kameron herself!

 

ACCEPTED PROGRAMMING

Quills at the ready! Check out our Accepted Programming page for the full lineup of this year’s topics, summaries, and presenter biographies. In one of our richest years of programming yet, our presenters will examine everything from found families to distressing damsels, counterpart cultures to writing as self-care, and so much more—all in the form of papers, roundtables, panels, workshops, and afternoon classes. Thank you, presenters!

All presentations are available for sponsorship at $35 per presentation. You might choose to sponsor a friend, select a topic that speaks to you, or support an underrepresented voice.

Sponsor Programming

We will include your name next to your chosen topic in the program book, provided we receive your donation by August 15. Thank you for your support of programming at Sirens!

 

SIRENS SUPPORT

For other ways to support Sirens, we accept monetary donations of any amount, as well as items or services for our auction. Please visit this post to learn more about how we use your support to help keep the price of Sirens as low as possible.

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: GUESTS OF HONOR

To celebrate our conference theme of reunion, we continue to reflect on past conferences and check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. In 2011, our theme was monsters, and our Guests of Honor were Justine Larbalestier, Nnedi Okorafor, and Laini Taylor. Read the full post.

 

REGISTRATION AND TICKETS UPDATE

We currently only have 6 tickets remaining for the Sirens Studio. If you’d like to register or purchase a ticket, we recommend you do it soon!

Register or Purchase Tickets

 

HOTEL

Before you know it, Sirens will be just around the corner, and we strongly recommend you book your hotel room at the Park Hyatt at Beaver Creek as soon as possible. Please click here for reservations information. If you’re looking for a roommate, please tweet at us @sirens_con and watch our Twitter account for other attendees also looking!

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST

Sirens veterans know that we select a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invite attendees to bring their breakfast on conference mornings and discuss them. View our 2018 selections, and check out our new spotlight on rebels and revolutionaries, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

The Memory Trees

For this month’s book club, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reads and reviews Kali Wallace’s The Memory Trees, which she considers “one of the best examples of both a non-ghost hauntings book, but also a fantasy book where the magic and the impossible provide another avenue of exploration.” More thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Communications Director Faye Bi reads the most delightful first Wollstonecraft Detective Agency book, The Case of the Missing Moonstone, as part of her 2018 Sirens Reading Challenge this month: “Freaking adorable. Positively charming. If these books were animals, they’d be big-eyed puppies, ones that I would want to snuggle forever.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 7 (June 2018)

In this issue:

 

GUEST OF HONOR: ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE

We’re interviewing each of our 2018 Guests of Honor about their inspirations, influences, and craft, as well as the role of women in fantasy literature, as befits their corresponding reunion theme.

Earlier this month, we spoke to Anna-Marie McLemore on lovers, found families within the LGBTQ+ community, her lyrical, transcendent writing style, and, as a Latina queer woman, not having the option to leave politics out of her art: “I want to write fairy tales for my communities. I want to write stories that are honest—in all their blood and history—and also hopeful—in placing LGBTQ+ characters and characters of color at their centers, in giving them space to claim the magic that belongs to them.”

Our feature on Anna-Marie also includes a review of When the Moon was Ours by B R Sanders, a list of books we feel would be friends with Anna-Marie’s books (in a new feature titled “Book Friends”), and a fantasy book list curated by Anna-Marie on the lovers theme!

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: GUESTS OF HONOR

This fall will mark our tenth year of Sirens. With our conference theme of reunion, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on past conferences and revisit some old friends. In this series, we check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. In 2010, our theme was faeries, and our Guests of Honor were Holly Black, Marie Brennan, and Terri Windling.

Read the Full Post

 

REGISTRATION AND TICKETS UPDATE

Our Sirens Supper is sold out, and we currently only have 8 tickets remaining for the Sirens Studio. If you’d like to register or purchase a ticket, we recommend you do it soon!

To individuals who have submitted programming proposals, a reminder that you have until July 10, 2018, to register and be paid in full for this year’s conference.

Register or Purchase Tickets

 

PROGRAMMING

After the presenter registration deadline of July 10, we’ll be revealing this year’s highly-anticipated presentations on our Twitter and on the Accepted Programming page! If you proposed programming and missed the email with the result of your proposal, please email (programming at sirensconference.org) right away. Thank you again to everyone who proposed programming, whether it was your first or tenth time, for another wonderful year of presentations!

 

SIRENS BOOKSTORE, ATTENDING AUTHORS, AND BOOK DONATIONS

A few years ago, we began stocking our own bookstore as a fundraiser for Sirens. This allows us, in defiance of the commercial market among many other benefits, to stock our bookstore exclusively with fantasy books written by, or featuring, amazing women. Bookstore stocking is well underway for this year’s conference!

If you are an attending author with published books, we’d like to make sure your books are in our bookstore! Please email Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

In many ways, our bookstore operates like any other bookstore: we acquire new books for sale just like anyone else. But in two ways, our bookstore is different. First, the Sirens community frequently donates new books, just to make sure that the bookstore includes them in its inventory; sometimes these attendees work for publishers or are donating books that they’ve written, but often, these attendees simply want to help make our bookstore as amazing as possible. Second, we have a used section of our bookstore where we offer gently used fantasy books for $5 each. That section of our bookstore is stocked entirely through donations.

If you would like to donate books to our bookstore, please send your books to the following address, to arrive no later than August 1, 2018. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST

Sirens veterans know that we select a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invite attendees to bring their breakfast on conference mornings and discuss them. Here are this year’s selections:

Hauntings

The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Rebels and Revolutionaries

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Lovers

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages

Women Who Work Magic

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Please check out the first Books and Breakfast post on the blog, here.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

The Prey of Gods

This month for her book club, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reviews Nicky Drayden’s The Prey of Gods: “To envision a realistic world, set in the near future, that includes both sentient AI and a living mythology, and then to envision that world saved by an almost random group of often-marginalized people is an act born of tremendous ambition.” More thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Her Body and Other Parties

Communications Director Faye Bi reads Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties for her reading challenge this month, which she describes as “punch-you-in-the-face, unabashedly feminist. Darkly hilarious. Sex-positive. Queer. Smart as hell. More often than not, brutal … [these stories] know exactly what they are and do not have the time—or patience—to beat around the bush.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD

From Unseen Fire

Our Logistics and Art Director Manda Lewis reviews Cass Morris’s debut, From Unseen Fire, the first of her Aven Cycle trilogy; she found Morris’s historical research of a Romanesque republic particularly noteworthy: “I was easily pulled into the world with her rich descriptions of the city, its people, the architecture, the food, and even the fabric!” Read her full review here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 6 (May 2018)

In this issue:

 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROPOSALS

Thank you to everyone who submitted programming proposals! We received a record-breaking number of proposals this year, and the vetting board is hard at work reviewing your work. Decisions will be emailed by June 11, as will programming scholarship awards. All presenters must be registered for Sirens and paid in full by July 10, and we will announce this year’s programming shortly thereafter.

 

REGISTRATION AND TICKETS UPDATE

We are already half sold out for Sirens this year and the Studio and Supper tickets are almost gone! We currently have only 13 tickets remaining for our Sirens Studio and five tickets remaining for our Sirens Supper. If you’d like to register or purchase a ticket, you may do so in our registration system.

Register or Purchase Tickets

 

SCHOLARSHIPS

We’re thrilled to report that not only did we raise more funds for scholarships than ever before, we received more applications for those scholarships than ever before! Scholarships for publishing professionals and those with financial hardships have already been awarded, as have most of the scholarships for people of color awarded through Con or Bust—but one scholarship for a person of color is still available. Please visit Con or Bust to apply.

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: GUESTS OF HONOR

This fall will mark our tenth year of Sirens. With our conference theme of reunion, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on past conferences and revisit some old friends. In this series, we check in with our past Guests of Honor to see what they’ve been up to these days. In 2009, our theme was warriors, and our inaugural Guests of Honor were Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Sherwood Smith.

Read the Full Post

 

SECOND STUDIO CAREER INTENSIVE ANNOUNCED

We’re excited to announce the topic and summary of our second Sirens Studio career intensive, Rhoda Belleza’s “Hard Stops”! You can check out the full list of workshop topics, summaries, faculty biographies, and all the information over on our Sirens Studio page. Again, we have only 13 tickets remaining for this year’s Studio, so please get yours soon!

 

PRIVACY POLICY UPDATED

Like seemingly every other company on the planet, Narrate Conferences, the 501(c)(3) organization that presents Sirens, has updated its privacy policy, which applies to Sirens. Notably, while the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union applies to only certain individuals, Narrate’s new privacy policy extends the rights and protocols required by the GDPR to everyone. As this new policy applies to you by virtue of your continuing to use our website, register for Sirens, and so forth, you do not need to do anything to receive the benefit of this new policy. In contrast, MailChimp, the company that we use for our newsletters, requires that you update your settings in order to continue to receive our monthly Sirens newsletters in your inbox. To do so, please see the email we sent you earlier this week. If you have any questions or concerns, please email (legal at narrateconferences.org).

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

Miranda and Caliban

This month for her book club, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink reads Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban as it interrogates Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “I wanted more pointed criticism, more explicit condemnation of Prospero’s abuse and control of both Miranda and Caliban… That said, I’ve been considering lately that simple truth-telling might be its own form of feminism.” Read her thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Food of the Gods

For the 2018 Reading Challenge, this month Communications Director Faye Bi picked up Cassandra Khaw’s Food of the Gods, which she found “truly absurd… But if you love wordplay, clever mythology, copious descriptions of food, a plethora of witticisms and a bumbling, yet somehow endearing hero, you’ll overlook the out-of-left-field plot and enjoy the onslaught of detail.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD

Children of Blood and Bone

Bookstore Coordinator Amanda Hudson read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, which she loved for its “wondrous worldbuilding,” save for an “unexpected use of a popular trope… children forced to fight other children in a tournament or arena setting until only one is left alive, explicitly for the entertainment of adults.” Read her full review here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 10, Issue 5 (April 2018)

In this issue:

 

GUEST OF HONOR: VIOLET KUPERSMITH

Due to a very happy personal circumstance, Zen Cho will no longer be able to attend this year’s Sirens. Instead, the incomparable Violet Kupersmith will join us as our Hauntings guest this October! Violet is the author of The Frangipani Hotel, a collection of supernatural short stories about the legacy of the Vietnam War, and a forthcoming novel on ghosts and American expats in modern-day Saigon.

We’ve been enthusiastically recommending The Frangipani Hotel every year at Sirens since it was released. Her ghost stories are simultaneously retold Vietnamese folktales, an indictment of the Vietnam War, and an exquisite exploration of loss—of culture, of country, of family, of self. Her settings are palpable, her characters all-too-human, and her work brilliant, incisive, and subversive.

Please join us in welcoming Violet to Sirens! We have updated our reading lists and website, and you can read Violet’s full biography on our Guests of Honor page.

 

PROGRAMMING PROPOSALS DUE MAY 6

You have only seven days left to propose programming for this year’s Sirens! We hope that you’re considering submitting a proposal or two. You voice is valid and valuable, whether you’re new to Sirens or a ten-year veteran, and whether you’re a reader, scholar, librarian, farrier, secret-keeper, or heroine!

We are accepting proposals until May 6. For full information and instructions, please see our Programming Proposals page, as well as our series of blog posts on 2018 Programming, featuring programming types, tips, tricks, and general advice.

Have questions? Looking for a co-presenter? Need more inspiration? Check out the #SirensBrainstorm tag on Twitter; every Monday we tweet out fresh ideas free for the taking. We’ll also be hosting one more programming chat on our Chat page, which will be live at the scheduled time:

  • Tuesday, May 1, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

 

APPLY FOR SIRENS SCHOLARSHIPS

Due to the tremendous generosity of the Sirens community, we have 12 scholarships to award this year: three for people of color, three for exemplary programming proposals, three for those with financial hardships, and three for librarians, educators, and publishing professionals. The deadline for financial hardship and professional scholarships is May 13. For more information, visit our Scholarships page.

Each scholarship includes a conference registration and a round-trip shuttle ticket. Please spread the word! If you’re eligible for a scholarship, we very much hope that you’ll apply. Everyone needs a helping hand or some extra encouragement sometimes, and we’re so grateful to the Sirens community for making this support possible.

 

TICKETS UPDATE

Studio and Supper tickets are nearly sold out! We currently have only 14 tickets remaining for our Sirens Studio and six tickets remaining for our Sirens Supper. If you’d like to purchase a ticket, you may do so in our registration system.

 

SIRENS MEET-UPS

Though nothing replaces attending Sirens in October, we occasionally host casual get-togethers for the Sirens community throughout the year. It can be a great way to introduce us to your friends (and vice versa), share a meal or a cup of tea, and chat about books with fellow Sirens community members! Here are the meet-ups in Denver and New York:

  • Denver: Saturday, May 5, 2–4 p.m. Mountain
  • New York City: Saturday, May 19, 2–4 p.m. Eastern

Please note that attendees must pay for their own drinks and food. RSVP to Jennifer at (jennifer.shimada at sirensconference.org). Please see our post for the full details.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

The City of Brass

Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink talks personal reading quirks, reluctant heroines, and dazzling world-building in her book club pick this month—S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass—which she called, “in many, many, ways … a tour de force.” Read her thoughts on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

Communications Director Faye tried her hand at young adult poetry this month for her 2018 Reading Challenge pick, Christine Heppermann’s Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. “The book is a handsome tome, pocket-sized with art and text laid out just-so, and Heppermann is clearly talented, even if her poems don’t speak to my experience as a former teenage girl.” Read her full review on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT …


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

 

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.

 

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