News

Archive for Sirens 2012

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 7 (May 2012)

Programming Proposal Deadline
The deadline for proposing programming is Sunday, May 6, 2012. That’s just 4 days away! We can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you take part. Your thoughts on everything from this year’s theme, tales retold, to fantasy by and about women, to craft-focused presentations and even general fantasy discussion are welcome—but we do need you to submit them for consideration! Even though the proposal deadline is now, you’ll have until October to finish your paper or presentation, polish your panel, refine your workshop, firm up your roundtable discussion questions, or add the finishing touches to your afternoon class.

 

Where to Get More Information
We highly recommend the following links:
The programming section of the Sirens website
This is where we go over our requirements for programming in a formal manner, and where you can find the submissions system to provide us with your proposal.

The archive section of the Sirens website
For all of your questions about whether something has ever been presented before.

The Sirens LiveJournal programming tag
For a series of informal posts on how to put together a proposal.

(programming at sirensconference.org)
Where to e-mail us for more specific questions or for clarification.

 

Where to Find Collaborators
Folks have ads up and are looking for people to partner for presentations at…
This brainstorming post
The Sirens Chat LiveJournal
Facebook
Sirens message boards

 

Programming Deadline Chat
Just ahead of the programming deadline, we’ll open the chat room so that you can get last-minute feedback from others, ask questions, or just hang out to be a cheerleader and talk about books. Please note that this chat is at an unusual time for us!

DATE: Friday, May 4, 2012
TIME: 9 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Pacific), lasting about two hours
LOCATION: www.sirensconference.org/chat/

Remember, you won’t need any special software or a login; the page will turn into a chat room during the chat time. (You will need to refresh the page if it isn’t in chat mode when you arrive.)

 

You’re Excited About…

Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue, a companion book to both Graceling and Fire, was released on May 1! Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, sequel to Divergent, was also released on May 1! –Sabrina

And Kristin Cashore, a past Sirens’s guest of honor, is going on tour for Bitterblue. More info is on her blog: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/–Amy

Flora’s Fury, the third book in Ysabeau Wilce’s Flora series, about a plucky girl in a very strange world indeed, is coming out May 8. –Sarah

 

Travel Tip: Sirens Shuttle
Are you waiting for the information on the Sirens Shuttle from Portland International Airport to Skamania Lodge before you finalize your plans? We are too! We’ve been working with local transportation providers on quotes so that we can, in turn, offer you a no-fuss option for getting to and from Sirens at a cost cheaper than car rentals and private shuttles. We just about have the details sorted, and we expect to pass them on to you later this month. Once the Sirens Shuttle information is ready, you’ll be able to add a ticket to a new registration or log in to your existing reservation to purchase your space on the shuttle.

 

Travel Tip: Hotel Reservations
Skamania Lodge is part of the same hotel system as the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa, so you might already be familiar with their reservation policies. If you’re not, Skamania Lodge operates a little differently from most hotels. One of the differences is that you need to make or change reservations in advance of when you might make them at other venues. You can get the discounted Sirens rate from October 7-16, in case you’d like to extend your stay, but reservations and changes must be made by September 18, 2012. For more about Skamania’s policies, please visit the Skamania Lodge page on the Sirens website.

If you missed the pictures from our recent staff trip to Skamania Lodge, you can see them on the Sirens website here.

 


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Site Visit Update

Happy spring! Our Sirens team, on a visit to Skamania last week, had a beautiful mix of sunshine and temperamental rain, much like you might expect from the Pacific Northwest in April. Which means that our pictures from our rooms at Skamania range from this:

To this:

But don’t let me get ahead of myself with the amazing pictures of the Columbia River and the Cascade Mountains! We were there to do things other than gawk, and I promise we did.

As many of you know, moving a conference takes a lot of time, consideration, and care. Things that we’ve long since figured out about Vail – the conference schedule, the marketplace, Jake the Bus Driver – have to be reconsidered and reconfigured. So off we went to Skamania to meet with our hotel team.

You’ll be pleased to know that Skamania remains simply wonderful: cozy public spaces, thoughtful staff, glorious views. Our team has voted, and we think it’s actually prettier than Vail. (Seriously, take a look at the pictures above.) And it’s only 207 feet above sea level!

The lobby has all-day coffee, tea, and cocoa; a Forest Service office with advice about surrounding trails and wildlife; and a fabulous sitting area that offers a three-story real-wood fireplace:

And, oh, the view from the lobby looks like this:

The hotel has two restaurants, though, alas, no marketplace, so item number one was to discuss how to offer attendees quick-shop meal options throughout the day. I’m happy to report that we’re well on our way to not only doing so, but doing so with locally sourced food. The new chef – who stopped by our breakfast – is charming, fun, and best of all, interested in continuing Skamania’s commitment to local food sourcing. Here are some of his creations:

Green eggs and ham:

And winter desserts:

We’re also well on our way to rolling out custom catering menus for our Sirens meals. We’ve emphasized our desire for local, creative options, so we’re waiting to see if that means Columbia River Gorge fish, pasta with local vegetables, the most fabulous tofu curry, or something entirely different! (Can you tell I’m pulling for the tofu?)

By the way, if you’re taking the Sirens Shuttle, more information is coming soon! But the views along the shuttle route to Skamania look like this:

The view from Vista House:

To the view of Multnomah Falls, the second-highest, year-round waterfall in the United States at 620 feet:

If I were you, I might think about taking the shuttle just so I could gawk without becoming a hazard!

If you feel like relaxing, Skamania – of course! – has a spa and some amazing pools and hot tubs! (We did not take pictures, since there were people, but the outside hot tub is especially fun.) And if you’re feeling more adventurous, there are hiking trails…with evidence of a sasquatch:

Now that we’ve met with the Skamania team, we’ll have more information about our schedule, our menus, our shuttle, and other programs coming in the next couple months. In the meantime, though, remember that our programming submissions deadline is May 6, 2012. And if you have any questions or concerns, just ask!

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 6 (April 2012)

Programming
Our programming submission deadline approaches! Our programming schedule, from topics to presentation types, is drawn from the submissions we receive from attendees. In other words, if you’d like to see it, you should propose it—or convince someone else to. We certainly hope you’ll consider taking part!

And we’re here to help! Our annual series on programming and how to be involved continues on LiveJournal under the programming tag: http://sirenscon.livejournal.com/tag/programming

There are currently posts on general preparation, papers, panels, and brainstorming (the last one is here: http://sirenscon.livejournal.com/45083.html).

Also, if you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad in one–or all–of these places?
The Sirens Chat LiveJournal
Facebook
Sirens message boards

The deadline for proposing papers, panels, workshops, roundtable discussions, and afternoon classes is May 6, 2012. Those five weeks will fly by! If you have questions, please feel free to ask them here or to write to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Chat
The Sirens team will host a chat on Sunday, April 22. We’ll make it a combined chat: lots of book talk, lots of reconnecting, and lots of programming brainstorming. Questions welcome!
Date: April 22
Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific)
You don’t need any special software or programs to participate; the page at http://www.sirensconference.org/chat/ will turn into a chat room at the appropriate time. (You may need to refresh the page.)

 

You’re Excited About…
Black Heart, the third book in the Curse Workers series by Holly Black, is due out April 3rd! — Sabs

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is up for Teen Choice Book of the Year at the 2012 Children’s Choice Book Awards. More information about the award, the other finalists and the Children’s Book Council can be found here: http://www.bookweekonline.com/voting. Voting ends May 3. — Faye

April showers will bring Banner of the Damned!! Woot woot. — Kristen

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson comes out on April 17! — Hallie

 

What Are You Excited About?
Do you have a book coming out, or are you excited about something new on the shelves? Have you just discovered everyone else’s old favorite fantasy series? Found an interesting fantasy-related link? Send your preferred name, a sentence or two about the exciting news, and any important dates or links to (hallie at sirensconference.org) or leave us a comment, and we’ll feature you in next month’s newsletter. We love good news!

 

Within a Day’s Drive…
If you’re planning to come in early to Sirens or stay late, you’ll be just a few hours from some amazing scenery and some great cities. Here are just a few of the attractions within a day’s drive from Stevenson, Washington. Some could be day trips; others will need two or three for drive time and sightseeing.

  • Mt. Rainier
  • Mt. Hood
  • Mt. St. Helens
  • Seattle (take at least one ferry ride!)
  • Portland (check out: Powell’s Bookstore, Voodoo Doughnut, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)
  • The Oregon coast, including Seaside, Lincoln City, and Cannon Beach
  • Maryhill Winery and Maryhill Museum of Art–as well as other wine-friendly stretches of Oregon and Washington
  • Multnomah Falls, Vista House, and other sights in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Ka-Nee-Ta Resort on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation
  • The temperate rainforest and cold Pacific beaches of the Olympic Peninsula

And, of course, you can always extend your stay at Skamania Lodge to read, write, hike, spa, swim, or soak in one of several hot tubs. Our discounted room rates are good from October 7 to October 16, 2012, based on availability.

 

Sirens Review Squad

In Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber (2000), young Tan-Tan is swept along when her father, an ethically challenged mayor named Antonio Habib, is exiled from their home on Toussaint to a bushland place called New Half-Way Tree, “the mirror planet of Toussaint” (2). This invocation of a mirror bears significance, for Midnight Robber interlaces two narratives: Tan-Tan’s obstacle-ridden coming of age, directed transparently to the reader, and its mirror-tale iteration of Tan-Tan the Robber Queen’s exploits, which a computer addresses to a fetus about to be born. The two strands become tangled to excellent effect, and they strengthen Tan-Tan–in the reader’s mind and possibly in Tan-Tan’s–for the final confrontation of an assault-driven trauma.

Like many SF novels, though unlike them in its awareness of the practice, Hopkinson’s novel extrapolates its futuristic setting from the cultures with which its author grew up. Thus, the shorthand signifiers that enable science fiction novels to avoid being mired in successive infodumps have a Caribbean-inflected basis here: a personal AI helper is an eshu, for example, and the distributed nanocomputer network that watches over the Toussaint colony is known as Granny Nanny or Granny ‘Nansi. Logical. Yet the latter choice is not a simple substitution for “web”: Anansi is the ubiquitous spider-trickster of Caribbean and West African tales, traditionally male, and the character’s refiguration here as a protective, vaguely maternal social guardian with which everyone on Toussaint is infected moves right through folkloric allusion to ethical declaration. The didactic adventure-tales of the narrative’s mirror strand help the reader to comprehend the values and ideals of the cultures Tan-Tan passes through–though, of course, their narration by Granny Nanny, an exceptionally unreliable narrator (and trickster?), also makes them suspect, as the reader sees regarding the douen, a species indigenous to New Half-Way Tree.

With Midnight Robber Hopkinson has not only told a solidly engaging story but knotted into it implicit and explicit critiques of how we envision futures–future individuals, cultures, countercultures–when we write and read.

(If you have trouble with the novel’s use of patois, read it aloud to yourself till you find the cadences.) —
thistleingrey

 


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 5 (March 2012)

This is the official newsletter for Sirens, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The newsletter is published once a month to the Sirens News page, message boards, mailing list, LiveJournal, and Facebook. Certain other updates are posted on the conference’s Twitter.


Sirens
Volume 4 – Issue 5
March 2012

 

Programming Kickoff
We’re ready to receive proposals for papers and presentations, pre-empaneled sets of papers, panels, workshops, roundtable discussions, and afternoon classes. The proposal deadline is May 6, 2012, and the vast majority of the programming for Sirens comes from the proposals submitted by attendees.

March is our month of how-to, and the first of our informal posts about how to get involved in programming can be found on LiveJournal under the programming tag: http://sirenscon.livejournal.com/tag/programming.

These posts are designed to walk you through the process of proposing programming for Sirens. They’re lengthy at times, but please don’t be overwhelmed: we want you to have plenty of chances to ask questions.

 

Chat
The Sirens team will host a chat on Sunday, March 11, 2012. We’ll make it a combined chat: lots of book talk, lots of reconnecting, and lots of programming brainstorming talk. Questions welcome!
Date: March 11
Time: 3:00 p.m. Eastern/noon Pacific
You don’t need any special software or programs to participate; the page at http://www.sirensconference.org/chat/ will turn into a chat room at the appropriate time. (You may need to refresh the page.)

 

You’re Excited About…

From Manda Lewis: “I’m excited about the release of Robin Hobb’s City of Dragons! I’ve been imagining every possible outcome for her characters and now I get to know more. 🙂 I’m also excited to have seen the cover art for Cinda Williams Chima’s Crimson Crown, which she put up on Valentine’s Day! It looks fantastic!”

From Sabrina Chin: “I’m excited about the release for Timeless by Gail Carriger, the fifth and last book in the Parasol Protectorate series, due out on March 1st! I also can’t wait for Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, the sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, which is due out on March 13th!”

From Hallie: “I forget where I saw this, but I recently heard about Mary de Morgan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_de_Morgan), and she sounds like someone to check out.”

 

What Are You Excited About?
Do you have a book coming out, or are you excited about something new on the shelves? Have you just discovered everyone else’s old favorite fantasy series? Found an interesting fantasy-related link? Send your preferred name, a sentence or two about the exciting news, and any important dates or links to (hallie at sirensconference.org) or leave us a comment, and we’ll feature you in next month’s newsletter. We love good news!

 

Registration Tip: March 31 Price Jump
The next price jump for Sirens will happen on March 31, 2012. Right now, the cost to register and receive entry to conference programming and events, including the three keynote presentations by our guests of honor and a conference T-shirt available only to attendees, as well as four meals or receptions, is $180. It jumps to $190 at the very end of March. Visit http://www.sirensconference.org/registration/ for more information or to register now.

 

Reminder: New News!
If you like to read the news in a blog-style setting but aren’t so fond of LiveJournal, we have great news. All newsletters for Sirens going forward–and, eventually, from the past–will be hosted at http://www.sirensconference.org/news/. You can pick up an RSS feed there, comment on posts, and search by tags. To see all of the other ways you can get news about Sirens, please visit http://www.sirensconference.org/connect/newsoutlets.php.

 

Flying to Sirens
The closest airport to Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington, is Portland International Airport (PDX). You can investigate everything from their extensive shopping to airline carriers to on-site Wi-Fi here. We’ll run a shuttle from PDX to Sirens. We’ll have more information about riding the shuttle and ticket costs in the summer.

 


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 4 (February 2012)

This is the official newsletter for Sirens, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The newsletter is published once a month to the Sirens News page, message boards, mailing list, LiveJournal, and Facebook. Certain other updates are posted on the conference’s Twitter.


Sirens
Volume 4 – Issue 4
February 2012

 

New News!
If you like to read the news in a blog-style setting but aren’t so fond of LiveJournal, we have great news. All newsletters for Sirens going forward–and, eventually, from the past–will be hosted at http://www.sirensconference.org/news/. You can pick up an RSS feed there, comment on posts, and search by tags. To see all of the other ways you can get news about Sirens, please visit http://www.sirensconference.org/connect/newsoutlets.php.

 

Programming Kickoff
We’re ready to receive proposals for papers and presentations, pre-empaneled sets of papers, panels, workshops, roundtable discussions, and afternoon classes. The proposal deadline is May 6, 2012, and the vast majority of the programming for Sirens comes from the proposals submitted by attendees.

March will bring our annual series of how-to posts for new and experienced presenters. In the meantime, here are a few quick facts about programming.

  • Anyone eligible to attend Sirens is eligible to submit a programming proposal. We welcome proposals from a range of perspectives, fields, and experiences.
  • The 2012 theme is “tales retold,” and we encourage you to engage with the theme (and, especially, to think outside the fairy tale retelling box), but we also encourage presentations on topics related to fantasy, with a focus on women as consumers and producers of fantasy.
  • You don’t have to be registered at the time you make your proposal, but accepted presenters must be registered by July 1, 2012, to confirm attendance.
  • The programming section of the Sirens website has all sorts of information on presentation formats and lengths, things to consider, and the support the conference may be able to provide (projection services, easels, etc.).
  • If you have a question that’s not answered by the website, the programming team can be reached at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

Chat
The Sirens team will host a chat on Sunday, March 11, 2012. We’ll make it a combined chat: lots of book talk, lots of reconnecting, and lots of programming brainstorming talk. Questions welcome!
Date: March 11
Time: 3:00 p.m. Eastern/noon Pacific
You don’t need any special software or programs to participate; the page at http://www.sirensconference.org/chat/ will turn into a chat room at the appropriate time. (You may need to refresh the page.)

 

What Are You Excited About?
Do you have a book coming out, or are you excited about something new on the shelves? Have you just discovered everyone else’s old favorite fantasy series? Found an interesting fantasy-related link? Send your preferred name, a sentence or two about the exciting news, and any important dates or links to (hallie at sirensconference.org) or leave us a comment, and we’ll feature you in next month’s newsletter. We love good news!

 

Registration Tip: March 31 Price Jump
The next price jump for Sirens will happen on March 31, 2012. Right now, the cost to register and receive entry to conference programming and events, including the three keynote presentations by our guests of honor and a conference T-shirt available only to attendees, as well as four meals or receptions, is $180. It jumps to $190 at the very end of March. Visit http://www.sirensconference.org/registration/ for more information or to register now.


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 3 (January 2012)

This is the official newsletter for Sirens, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The newsletter is published once a month to the Sirens News pagemessage boardsmailing listLiveJournal, and Facebook. Certain other updates are posted on the conference’s Twitter.


Sirens
Volume 4 – Issue 3
January 2012

Guests of Honor

Happy new year!

We’re thrilled to announce that with the new year comes wonderful news: our third guest of honor for 2012!

Nalo Hopkinson has published four novels and numerous short stories, and has edited or co-edited four anthologies, most in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. She is a recipient of the Locus Award for Best New Writer, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Ontario Arts Council Foundation Award for Emerging Writers. Her works have won a World Fantasy Award, a Gaylactic Spectrum Award, an Aurora Award, and the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic (twice), and have been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, the James R. Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Nebula Award for Best Novel. Brown Girl in the Ring was also a finalist in Canada Reads. Nalo holds an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and is currently an associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. She has served as faculty for Clarion East, Clarion West, and Clarion South, and she is a founding member of the Carl Brandon Society.

For more information about Nalo, please visit her website http://nalohopkinson.com/, which includes her blog, or her Twitter http://twitter.com/nalohopkinson.

Nalo Hopkinson will join Kate Bernheimer and Malinda Lo and complete our guest slate for 2012. All three authors have re-written familiar tales, and some unfamiliar tales as well, and the work of each reinvents those tales in unexpected ways. Further, we think that our three guests, collectively, showcase the breadth of what re-tellings can be: myths, legends, folklore, fairy tales, new tales in old traditions, and old tales turned upside-down. We couldn’t be more excited!

 

Programming Ideas and Retellings
The deadline for programming proposals is May 6, 2012, leaving you just under four months to design a paper (or set of papers), panel, workshop, roundtable, or informal afternoon class. For this year’s theme, “tales retold,” we want to encourage you to use the intervening time to think outside the box.

First, when thinking about retelling tales, you might consider process: What craft goes into reimagining and revamping a story? What might a storyteller need to consider when choosing a tale to retell, or when constructing a retelling? What makes a particular tale interesting or difficult to retell, and why do we retell stories?

Second, you might consider “product,” though that’s perhaps an ungraceful word to describe stories. What we mean is this: How successful are individual retellings, given particular criteria? How does a retelling illustrate change in society, our reading tastes, our politics and beliefs? Can we compare different retellings?

Finally, while we know that fairy tales and princess stories are always popular, we strongly encourage you to think beyond those ideas this year. There is a plethora of tales that include women in fantasy to think about and discuss–a plethora of stories that have gained (or lost) fantasy trappings through retellings, of stories that have their roots in other genres, of stories that have been passed down outside of the collections of Grimm and Perrault, of stories that are the descendants of folk tales and mythology.

Consider, perhaps, L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy, and then MGM’s, then The Wiz, Tin Man, and both the book and musical Wicked.

Consider Lewis Carroll’s Alice versus Disney’s versus American McGee’s versus Frank Beddor’s ultraviolent reworking versus Tim Burton’s sword-wielding Jabberwocky slayer (and also who is in charge of the retelling, for Alice and for Dorothy Gale).

Consider Ponyo as a riff on “The Little Mermaid,” not to mention all the modern retellings of the story that feature not only the Little Mermaid herself, but sometimes her daughter.

Think of retellings of legends and folklore from around the world, from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions to Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, from Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber to Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, and consider tales that draw on ancient traditional stories that were themselves shared between different groups.

Remember that mythic retellings are fair game, from Francesca Lia Block’s poetic “Psyche in a Dress” and Sarah Diemer’s lesbian reworking of Hades and Persephone, to Patricia McKillip’s retelling of Baba Yaga in In the Forests of Serre and Catherine Fisher’s Nordic Snow-Walker.

Think of fantasy retellings of plays, such as Lisa Mantchev’s Eyes Like Stars, which takes on much of Shakespeare, and the stories that playwrights have been sharing and re-sharing for centuries.

And if fairy tales are your thing, remember that they’re more than just princesses: the Pied Piper, the Little Match Girl, the Snow Queen, Donkeyskin, and the White Cat make a quick list of fairy tales that have fantasy retellings to get you started, and for a look at what a fantastic author can do with the fairytale tradition, take a look at Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby.

In the coming months, we’ll help with brainstorming for programming and go over the nuts and bolts of different types of presentations, but in the meantime, please feel free to visit the programming and reading list sections of the Sirens website for some inspiration and a place to start your research.

 

Review Squad Deadline Extended
If you’re interested in writing a handful of reviews for the Sirens newsletter in 2012, please note that we’ve extended the application deadline to January 31, 2012. Please see this page for more information.

 


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 2 (December 2011)

This is the official newsletter for Sirens, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The newsletter is published once a month to the Sirens News pagemessage boardsmailing listLiveJournal, and Facebook. Certain other updates are posted on the conference’s Twitter.


Sirens
Volume 4 – Issue 2
December 2011

 

Gift Certificates
We’ve noticed that the Sirens community is very much just that: a community of people who want ways to help each other, and sometimes that help comes in the form of financial support that allows others to attend Sirens. We’re happy to be able to help make this easier logistically, and to announce that you can now purchase Sirens gift certificates.

All you need is a name and an e-mail address to give a gift certificate. Gift certificates can be purchased in any amount. When you purchase your gift certificate, we create the gift certificate in a PDF and send it, depending on your wishes, to either you or your recipient–and we know that sometimes it’s about the gift and not the giver, so gift certificates can be given anonymously.

The fine print: Gift certificates purchased between now and next October can be used only for 2012 Sirens registrations, and for Sirens Supper and Sirens Shuttle tickets for 2012 once those tickets are available. Like the registrations and tickets, the gift certificates are non-refundable, but can be transferred. Because the gift certificates are for Sirens attendance, your recipient must be 18 years old as of October 10, 2012. Please note that gift certificates purchased now are only good for Sirens in 2012 and don’t roll over to other years; they’ll expire in October.

For more information and to purchase gift certificates, please check out our gift certificate page. If you have questions, just shoot them to our registration team at (registration at sirensconference.org).

 

Programming in 2012
It’s never too early to start thinking about programming proposals. The presentations on the Sirens conference schedule are drawn from proposals generated by attendees. Since our 2012 theme is “tales retold,” we of course welcome proposals on topics related to that theme and presenters are invited to explore fantasy based on extant stories. Presenters are not limited to this theme, however, and proposals that address specific aspects of a work or series, works related by other themes, and studies of the fantasy genre across all disciplines are encouraged as well. A non-exhaustive list of sample topics includes literary analyses of novels; studies of genre history; use of fantasy works in schools and libraries for education; examination of related business and legal issues; media and fan studies; craft-based workshops in writing, art, and publishing; and overviews of how fantasy works fit into larger contexts.

The proposal deadline is May 6, 2012. In the spring, the Sirens LiveJournal hosts a series of posts on how to prepare a proposal, but in the meantime, please feel free to explore the programming section of the Sirens website and to put out feelers for co-presenters on the Sirens forums.

 

Reading List
If you’re looking for programming ideas, check out the Sirens reading list, a selection of books that retell tales, myths, and legends.

 

Sirens Review Squad
We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to Jazz and thistleingrey for being reviewers for our inaugural year of this project. With the end of the year coming up, it’s time for us to open applications to be part of the squad for 2012.

We’re seeking a small group of reader-reviewers to continue this project. Each contributor will be part of the online project from January to October 2012, and will write 4-12 book reviews of 300–600 words each. Here are the parameters:

  • Contributors’ reviews can be written in advance, and must be complete two weeks ahead of their scheduled publication so that the project coordinator can ensure that they’re lightly edited. (We expect that there might be a few typos.)
  • Contributors work together to devise a schedule; you can contribute a review when you have the time to do so, though you should expect to spread out your reviews or write them earlier in the year so that they can run at a later date. You are responsible for being aware of, and meeting, your deadlines.
  • About half of the reviews should be drawn from the Sirens reading list or Books and Breakfast reading list, and the other half selected with input from the project coordinator to ensure that there isn’t too much overlap. We’ll focus on books by guests of honor over the summer of 2012, so that is an option as well.
  • You can revamp a previously written review, but it’s nice if you put together new content. Once your review is published, we’ll ask that you give us an exclusive for one month before you re-post it.
  • Reviews need not be wholly positive, but contributors are encouraged to review books that they’d recommend rather than books they wouldn’t.
  • Books reviewed should be women-authored or feature female characters; reviewing books that analyze fantasy literature is an option as well.
  • Your words reflect your own reading experience, not the opinions or positions of Sirens.
  • We’re happy to have reviewers return from year to year, if you’ve reviewed before.

We’d love to be able to include everyone who’d like to contribute, but having a small group of contributors works best. If you’d like to be considered as a contributor, please write to (help at sirensconference.org) by December 31, 2011, with the following information:

1. The name (and pen name, if that applies) that you’d like to review under
2. Your e-mail address
3. Three books you’d like to review from the Sirens reading list, and why (a sentence or two about each is fine)
4. How you’d like to focus your non-reading list/contributor’s choice reviews (for example, would you be interested in focusing on picture books, or short stories available online, or novels written in the 1980s, or anthologies, or…)
5. If you’re familiar with any particular blogging platforms or similar software, it’s nice to know
6. A link to three book reviews you’ve written and posted online OR the text of two sample reviews that we can read, pasted in the e-mail

Thank you for your interest! If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here or to write to (help at sirensconference.org).

* * *
December Review

Strange Angels
Razorbill (Penguin), 2009
Lili St. Crow

Lili St. Crow is skilled at breaking down gender stereotypes in depictions of her characters. When a girl pulls a gun on a guy, we expect a writer to have the guy call her bluff. In Strange Angels, we don’t see that. Lili shows us emotions without masculine or feminine stereotypes getting in the way. She shows us fear we can feel from both sides of the trigger, and the emotional strength it takes to pull it or not.

Initially, I was skeptical about Strange Angels. The tagline promoting the sequel, “Will Dru discover just how special she really is?,” did not give me any confidence that this was going to be anything but a YA paranormal romance with a Mary Sue. I was pleasantly surprised when Dru turned out to be exactly what she should be: the product of an upbringing in which she is motherless and accompanies her father into supernatural territory on what are most likely suicide missions.

Dru is uncouth; she says “goddamn” and belches as often as she pleases. She may be an amateur, but she doesn’t curl up in a ball when evil knocks on her door. She does something about it.

In addition to a strong female lead, Lili delivers a solid supporting male character in Graves. A cute half-Asian boy who is afraid he is becoming a werwulf. Graves offers comic relief in the presence of Dru’s serious business attitude. He plays a lot of roles throughout the story including the maybe-hopefully-boyfriend and the voice of reason for Dru, whose life is bereft of role models.

I found Graves to be the most interesting character in the book. We learn just enough about his past and everyday life to become intrigued and wonder what it was that got him to where he is (living in an abandoned part of a mall), and how his history will affect his choices now that he knows about the existence of paranormal beings.

Though, dangerous ground is tread when Dru describes Graves as a “half-breed,” and thinks it is good that Graves “hadn’t drawn the really slit-eyed card a lot of half-breeds have to play.” Maybe some racially mixed people like the shape of their thin eyes, Dru.

In the end, Lili shows us more of her skill at depicting the human condition after the shock of terrible events, and ushers in a new setting that will bring more exciting and dangerous adventures, and continue the quest for revenge and retribution to the lives of her characters. —Jazz

 


Questions? Please ask us here or write to (help at sirensconference.org).

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 4, Issue 1 (November 2011)

This is the official newsletter for Sirens, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature. The newsletter is published once a month to the Sirens News page, message boards, mailing list, LiveJournal, and Facebook. Certain other updates are posted on the conference’s Twitter.


Sirens
Volume 4 – Issue 1
November 2011

 

Sirens in 2011
Thank you again to everyone who attended Sirens in 2011. We had a fabulous weekend: thoughtful presentations and discussions, snow that came and left at just the right time, gracious guests, dedicated volunteers, and engaged attendees. We couldn’t have asked for better.

On the down side, just as we prepared to send you updates from Sirens, Photobucket changed its terms of service. We’re not so pleased about the changes (and figured that past attendees wouldn’t like to have their images used by all and sundry), so our reports from Vail will be delayed until we’ve had the chance to find a new photo host and get everything uploaded again. This affects pictures from past events as well. In the meantime, please accept our apologies, and please look for 2011 reports from Vail in December.

Auction items and supporting registrations have been mailed out. If you’re expecting books by media mail, those might still be in transit. If we recorded your presentation for you, please know that we’ll need some extra time to get those to you, and keep an eye on your e-mail in December. Presenters who plan to submit to the compendium have until November 15, 2011, to provide their papers, articles, discussion questions, and lesson plans; please refer to the compendium e-mail from the programming team for more information.

Again, our thanks to those who attended. You made the conference really special.

 

We’re moving!
During the breakfast at the end of Sirens, we spoke briefly about why Sirens came to be in Vail: it was a “hometown” event for Narrate Conferences; we wanted to serve the western part of the United States; the Rocky Mountains in October provided us with many cost savings; our parent nonprofit is exempt from sales tax in Colorado; and we were already near a world-class location for getting away from it all, so it seemed a shame not to share. To consider moving Sirens, at all, was not something we took lightly.

At the same time, we want Sirens to be able to continue for years to come, so as a one-year experiment, we’ll be in a new location. In 2012, Sirens will take place near Portland, Oregon, at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington, on the Columbia River, on October 11-14. Skamania Lodge is excited to welcome us–to host our conference, to let us use their library, to have attendees rock in chairs in front of the 85-foot high fireplace in the lobby, to have us hike on their trails or relax in their hot tubs. The hotel offers a rustic but comfortable ambience, and we think that it’s a great option for us in 2012.

The nearest airport to Skamania Lodge is Portland International Airport, which is served by Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Horizon Air, JetBlue, SeaPort Airlines, Southwest, Spirit Airlines, United, and U.S. Airways. If you’re arriving to Portland by Amtrak or by Greyhound, the station downtown is about 12 miles from the airport, and a quick taxi ride–or bus or light rail ride–away. You can ride the Sirens Shuttle from Portland International Airport to Skamania Lodge; we’ll have rider and ticket information ready for you next year, but we expect to be able to reduce the price of a shuttle ticket a little bit and to get you to Skamania from the airport in just under an hour.

Because we’ll be in a new location, we expect change–we just don’t yet know what or how. We’ll be moving into new space and trading one set of perks (and quirks) for another. For that reason, we’re not yet posting an exact schedule of events and activities. You can, however, expect keynotes with our guests of honor, book signing time, book discussions, and attendee-generated papers and presentations, panels, roundtable discussions, workshops, and afternoon classes.

The 2012 website can be viewed here.

 

2012 Theme
In 2012, we’ll take on the theme of “tales retold.” Potential presenters are encouraged to focus on existing stories that have been imagined and re-imagined in the fantasy genre. This year’s logo was inspired by Scheherazade, who saved her own life by retelling takes she knew, and whose tale has been retold countless times.

Of course, as always, other presentations related to women as readers and creators of fantasy fiction and art, workshops for readers and writers, academic analyses, roundtable discussions, and fantasy-related afternoon classes are welcome. Please visit the programming section of the Sirens website for more information, and we’ll be looking forward to receiving your programming proposals in the spring.

 

Guests of Honor
Speaking of things we’re pleased to announce, we’re thrilled to announce two of our guests of honor for 2012. Young adult author Malinda Lo and author, editor, folklorist, and academic Kate Bernheimer will be joining us to talk about tales retold. We will announce our third guest at a later date, and we’ll be featuring the work of all three in our newsletters and on our website throughout the coming year. In the meantime, please feel free to visit the Sirens reading list to find out what tales they and others have retold.

 

Registration, Travel, and All the Rest
Registration is open on the Sirens website. Information about Skamania Lodge and travel generally is already on our website. Information about the Sirens Supper and Sirens Shuttle will be added in 2012 once we can provide scheduling and pricing.

 

Sirens Review Squad
The Secret History of Moscow
Prime Books, November 2007
Ekaterina Sedia

The Secret History of Moscow isn’t so much about Moscow as it is about the people who live there. Rather, the story is about human connections through shared history.

We meet three main characters: Galina, a woman labeled as a spinster who was formerly institutionalized for seeing and hearing things that were not there; Yakov, a detective with English roots who is keeps himself emotionally distant from his missing persons investigations; and Fyodor, a painter choosing to live on the streets who has an ingrained fear of gypsies thanks to his mother’s superstitions, and his willingness to give into them.

All three are in some way estranged from loved ones or their own emotions, and are just unhappy enough to find their way into the underground of Moscow where people who have been turned into jackdaws, and Koschey the Deathless are locals. You’ll get a bit of a crash course in Russian folklore from Secret History, but it helps to know the stories to appreciate the in-jokes.

Galina seeks her sister among the humans-turned-jackdaws; Yakov tries to solve the mystery of the jackdaws so the humans can return home; and Fyodor–well, this painter/alcoholic/pickpocket is out to save himself, and redeem himself in the eyes of a Romani girl he wronged years ago. A large cast of characters pass through the pages, and though several of them are inconsequential to the plot, they eloquently illustrate the struggles of the Russian people. Sedia’s prose is elegant, spare—using the right words and the right amount—and able to provoke the harshness of Russian winters as well as the cold, bitter feeling in one’s heart when life throws too many curve balls to handle, leaving you on the outskirts of society.

Galina is the most well-drawn character, and the one likely to interest Sirens readers the most. The book gives us many glimpses into the history her loving, passionate relationship with her younger sister. Through their experiences, Sedia poses the difficult question of what type of life is worth living, what type is worth giving up—though giving up does not mean death, and if any life is lesser than another.

The Secret History of Moscow ends in a shocking and brilliant turn of events that may at once break and warm the hearts of those who would sacrifice all they ever knew for the person they love most. —Jazz

 


Thank you for your patience and for stepping into the unknown with us in 2012! In the meantime, please feel free to contact us at (help at sirensconference.org) with questions.

See you next year!

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.

 

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