Archive for programming

Programming Tips, Tricks, and Frequently Asked Questions

Last week, we posted about how programming works for Sirens—and we highlighted how, each year, our programming is the collective work of our attendees. Regardless of your vocation, your level of experience, or your number of years at Sirens, you have something to say. And we hope that you’ll take a crack at sharing your thoughts and expertise as part of our programming this year!

Today, we have general programming information, how to find help from real people, tips and tricks for proposing programming, and answers to frequently asked questions about our programming process. Here we go!


General Information

  • We are accepting proposals from March 16 to May 15. All proposals must be submitted in full, including any supplemental abstracts for panels, by May 15, and all presenters must have “checked in” by following the links in emails that we send out when a main presenter indicates there will be a co-presenter.

  • The Sirens vetting board will make decisions by June 15. All accepted presenters must be registered and paid for Sirens by July 10.

  • We will have four scholarships (a 2020 Sirens registration and round-trip shuttle ticket) available for exemplary programming proposals. We also have one Sabrina Chin “Braver Than You Think” Memorial Scholarship available for a first-time presenter. You can apply for these scholarships as part of the submissions process.

  • You can propose programming in a number of formats: papers or lectures (including as a set of pre-empaneled papers/lectures on a single topic), panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, afternoon classes, or a combination of multiple formats. (Please consult with the programming team before you submit a combination, though!)

  • You are welcome to present with co-presenters, except for roundtables, which may have only a single moderator. Please note that the person submitting the proposal will be our main contact for the proposal (and in the case of a panel, will be the moderator). Again, please make sure that your collaborators are aware that they will need to confirm their participation by May 15—and in the case of panels and pre-empaneled papers, will need to submit a 300–500-word abstract of their own (note that the vetting board will review all abstracts in determining whether to select a proposal).

  • All communication is via email. Please use an email address to which you’ll have access throughout 2020, and that you check regularly.

  • Programming is reviewed and approved by an independent vetting board. All proposals are kept confidential.

  • Additional information can be found in Sirens’s official Call for Proposals.


Help from Real People

  • Programming Chats: Have questions? Looking for topic ideas or collaborators? Want some advice on selecting a presentation format? We’re holding two online chats with our programming team. They don’t make the selection decisions, but they’re full of thoughts that might be helpful! Chats will be held here at the following times:

    Sunday, March 22, 1–4 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m.–1 p.m. Pacific)
    Monday, May 4, 9–11 p.m. Eastern (6–8 p.m. Pacific)

  • Free Topics: All through February, March and April, we’ll be tweeting programming topics that are free for you to take, develop, and use in your programming proposal. You might take them as is, you might use them as inspiration, or you might find that they get your brain moving! Follow us on Twitter @sirens_con or check out #SirensBrainstorm.

  • More Questions: Email us! You can contact our programming team at (programming at They can’t guarantee your acceptance, but they’re full of helpful advice, and are glad to help you figure out the best format for your proposal, answer questions about the process, and so on.


Tips and Tricks

  • Everyone is welcome to propose programming! Sirens is a conference where readers and students present alongside authors and scholars, who present alongside librarians, educators, and publishing professionals. Everyone’s voice is valid, valuable, and necessary to our conversations and our community!

  • Look at past programming schedules. Our vetting board knows what topics have been presented in past years—and you should, too, so you don’t repeat them! New topics, or brand-new takes on old topics, will be considered more favorably. We make all our past programming available in our conference archive.

  • Go beyond introductory topics and analysis. Sirens is over ten years old, and we assure you, most Sirens attendees are well-versed in basic topics like “Reclaiming Fairy Tales” and “What is Diversity?” Push the sophistication of your topic and your analysis further.

  • Consider what type of presentation suits your topic best. We’ll be doing a deeper dive on each of these in the coming weeks, but here’s a preview: papers and lectures are good for experts to convey information or frame an argument; panels are suitable for rigorous debate among experts with differing expertise or opinions; roundtable discussions are great for topics where every audience member will have an opinion or contribution; and workshops and afternoon classes are perfect for hands-on explorations of practical topics.

  • Focus on one or two proposals rather than several. This will help ensure your proposals are well-prepared and well-argued—and will increase their likelihood of acceptance.

  • Choose your co-presenters wisely. We strongly encourage you to seek out co-presenters with a variety of expertise, perspectives, and identities. Differences in expertise can bring additional thoughts and approaches to your work, while different perspectives and identities can enrich discussion and debate over your topic. (Bonus tip: If your topic is for people with complementary expertise to present information, we strongly encourage you to consider a paper or lecture with co-presenters, rather than a panel; the panel format is best suited for discussion and debate among panelists with different perspectives.)

  • Leave enough time to write a thoughtful summary and abstract. Since these descriptions are what the vetting board will judge your proposal on and will determine fellow attendees’ interest in your topic, it behooves you to not wait until the last minute! This is especially true for pre-empaneled papers and panels, where co-presenters must also submit an abstract by May 15.

  • You are not required to present on this year’s theme of villains. Proposal topics must be relevant to Sirens, but do not need to address our theme for this year. Please do be sure that, at minimum, you’ve mentioned how your topic relates to fantasy!


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for being a presenter at Sirens?
The only requirement is that you must be a Sirens attendee, which also means you have to be 18 years old by October 22, 2020. Otherwise, everyone is welcome to propose programming—and if accepted, to present it!

How can I find co-presenters or panelists?
You can tweet @sirens_con or post on the unofficial Sirens Attendees Facebook group. You might also be able to find co-presenters or co-panelists at our programming chats.

How many proposals can I submit?
There is technically no limit, but we recommend focusing on one or two as it usually makes for better-prepared (and better-received) proposals.

Can I change my proposal later?
Before the May 15 deadline, you can submit a correction or contact us to withdraw and resubmit the proposal. Following May 15, however, we will pass your proposal on to the vetting board and you can no longer make changes.

Can I contact the vetting board about my proposal?
Please direct any questions to (programming at instead. Vetting board members only review proposals, and we ask them to keep their reviews confidential.

Can I request a specific day and time to present?
The schedule depends on our ability to track presentations by type, theme, and audio-visual needs, so we can’t accommodate schedule preferences. If you have an immovable conflict, such as your grandmother’s 100th birthday party, please write to us at (programming at

I have more questions!
We have more answers! Write us at (programming at


Sirens runs on donations, volunteer hours, and magic

Sirens Newsletter—Volume 11, Issue 6: June 2019

This month:


Programming Decisions Are Out

Congratulations to all our accepted presenters and thank you to everyone who proposed programming for this year’s conference! Our official big reveal is coming in July, so if you’re waiting with bated breath to see this year’s presentations and programming schedule, you don’t have to wait much longer. Just a reminder, all presenters must be registered to attend the conference (and paid in full) by July 10th.

If you are dying to know something coming up on the schedule this fall, the Books and Breakfast titles have been announced and here’s more information to help you select which titles you want to discuss over morning coffee. Or tea. We know how you all feel about tea.


Stay on Target with Sara Megibow

Continuing our monthly get to know you series of this year’s Sirens Studio faculty, we spoke to Sara Megibow, an agent from kt literary. Sara’s background in Six Sigma process improvement serves as magic-viewing goggles in her current role, where she proves that creative, passionate, literary people are not incompatible with the analytic and strategic world of publishing. During the Sirens Studio, Sara will be leading a professional development workshop, “Heroines Can Fly,” aimed at helping attendees define and achieve their personal goals.

Tickets are still available for this year’s Sirens Studio! And if you haven’t already checked out our past interviews with other Sirens Studio faculty, here are those links (with Nia Davenport, Juliet Grames, and Rebecca Roanhorse yet to come):


Introducing Sirens Essays!

This month we debuted Sirens essays, sometimes scholarly, sometimes personal, always thoughtful pieces crafted by members of the Sirens community. We hope these essays give you something to think about—and we think they’re a great example of the kinds of topics, debates, and programming that Sirens has to offer.

Both of the essays we shared in June examined the tricky task of specifying the individuals and instances that make up a great, long established, subtle system of injustice but in quite different contexts.

Nivair H. Gabriel’s academic paper, “Remake the World”: Algae, Art, and Indigenous Futurist Thought in Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince, takes a deep dive into the techniques used by Johnson to build a world’s worth of problems into the finite pages of her “cli-fi” novel.

Meanwhile, Robyn Bennis shares a personal shopping trip story as a tool to discuss the benefit-of-the-doubt optimism of cisgendered people and the mathematical theory they need to let go of polite indifference.


Support Sirens

When we created Sirens, we created something big and bold and bright: a place to discuss gender in fantasy literature through an intersectional feminist lens—and celebrate the remarkable, diverse work of women and nonbinary people in this field. In doing so, we also created an upside-down budget where our expenses exceed our revenue. We do this deliberately—even though it gives us heart palpitations—so we can keep our registration prices low and make Sirens more affordable for more people.

But how do we close that budget gap? Through the magic of the dozens of people each year who donate a few bucks or a hundred, a fun or amazing auction item, or a few new or used books. If you are able to support Sirens, here are several ways you can help.


Your Sirens Community

Whether you have read, are considering reading, or just plain curious about Emiko Jean’s Empress of All Seasons, check out this month’s book club review on the blog and Goodreads. Amy has a lot of feels about the monster women, warrior women, and more.

From our volunteer review squad, Christina Spencer shared what books from this year’s reading list broke the mold of her avid reading mind in her list of 5 books that broadened her horizons.

Also up for review is E.K. Johnston’s The Afterward. This epic, young adult fantasy about what happened in the years after major world-saving heroics won over Andrea Horbinski with its real-world relatable political and economic drags but lost her in other ways. Click here for her full report.


Get Them While They’re Hot

Click here to see the summer’s new releases in fantasy fiction.

Erynn’s Pick:


Myth, magic, and forensic investigation. Karen Lord’s newest heroine, Dr. Miranda Ecouvo might have correctly put together the pieces of a string of strange murders and incarcerated the guilty party but since she has landed herself into a dimension of mazes and memories with the Trickster God, that seems doubtful. In Redemption in Indigo, I love how Karen Lord smudged the lines between myth and realism to tell a wonderful tale. Unraveling seems ready to do the same and to meander between layers of plot, philosophy, and humor.


Faye’s Pick:

Magic for Liars

A murder investigation at a magical school? Count me in! But Sarah Gailey’s debut novel is so much more than wizards, wands, and boarding school. Unreliable narrator Ivy Gamble hasn’t a drop of magic in her and, perhaps because of that, is estranged from her magical sister, Tabitha. When Ivy investigates a murder at the school where Tabitha teaches, Ivy gets to step into that world of magic. If this is anything like Gailey’s American Hippo novellas, I expect terrific characters, a fascinating setting, and, as Gailey has discussed, a queer story.


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


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,, 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!



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


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


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


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


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 and questions about programming to (programming at


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.



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 and questions about programming to (programming at


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 and questions about programming to (programming at


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 and questions about programming to (programming at


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

In this issue:



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.



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!



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!



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



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.



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.



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!



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.



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.



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.



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


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

In this issue:



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!



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!



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.



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.



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



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!



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.



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.



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.



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


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

In this issue:



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!



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



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



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 right away. Thank you again to everyone who proposed programming, whether it was your first or tenth time, for another wonderful year of presentations!



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

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.)

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



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:


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


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.



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.



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.



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.



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


Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.


RSS Feed

The news archive for Sirens is linked below as an RSS feed. If you need instructions or would like more information, please click here. If you have questions about our RSS feed, please email us at (web at

RSS Feed Button



a siren's voyage, attendees, book club, book friends, book lists, book reviews, books, books and breakfast, bookstore, community day, compendium, essays, faculty, features, further reading, guests of honor, interviews, meet-ups, new releases, newsletters, on-site, programming, read with amy, scholarships, Sirens At Home, Sirens Studio, staff, support, testimonials, themes, volunteering, we asked sirens, where are they now



October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March

November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, March, February, January

December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

December, November, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January
Meet Our Guests of Honor
About the Conference
Sirens Twitter
Present Programming
Sirens Facebook

Connect with the Sirens community

Sign up for the Sirens newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list