Sirens Conference (24–27 October 2019) 🧜 Post-Con Reflection + Abridged Notes

It’s been two weeks since Sirens Con took place in snowy Colorado, and yet it feels like it happened only yesterday. This was my first ever Sirens, and I’ve been wanting to write a little something about it since its completion, but my mind just hasn’t wanted to form the right words.

Suffice it to say, I had a wonderful time at the conference. As a fledgling, unpublished sci-fi/fantasy writer and avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, as well as an introvert (I’m an INTJ), the impostor syndrome is strong with this one. There were definitely moments when I felt unsure of what to say to my fellow con goers, but those moments were few and far between, mostly because we were all there for the same purpose: for our love of sci-fi/fantasy stories and for creating a more inclusive community.

Now that the con is over, I’m feeling a little bit melancholy. The conference went by so quickly; I wish I could have basked in the positive energy of the women, nonbinary, and trans sci-fi/fantasy readers, writers, scholars, librarians, and booksellers forever! At the con, it was the first time in a long time that I felt like myself, that I felt like I was surrounded by like-minded people. It was inspiring and energizing.

As Amy Tenbrink encouraged us to do in her opening remarks, I peeled off my armor and tried to be as much of myself as I could be. But myself is a teeny bit vulnerable right now. It’s been a tough year—last couple of years, really. Sirens Con, however, inspired me. I want to keep writing—no, I need to keep writing.

Thank you, everyone at Sirens Con. I hope to see you again next year!


A little note for anyone reading this who’s thinking about attending Sirens for the very first time, but are reluctant to do so because you’re going alone or you have impostor syndrome or a million other reasons: don’t be reluctant! I felt very welcome at the con, and I promise you will too!

Abridged Notes

On Thursday, Amy Tenbrink’s opening remarks were inspirational, and Rebecca Roanhorse’s keynote made me want to immediately start reading Storm of Locusts.

On Friday, the panel “Building Inclusive Bookish Communities” made me nostalgic for LiveJournal. Mishell Baker’s “There Is Method in It: Why We Tell Stories About ‘Madness'” paper/lecture got me thinking more about the ways in which I want to portray anxiety and depression in my writing. Jennifer Shimada’s “There’s No I in Hero: A Discussion of Communities as Agents of Change” roundtable brought up a lot of good examples of how to subvert the rugged individualism mythos. Suzanne Scott’s keynote reminded me of why I’m a part of Women Write About Comics. Amanda Hudson’s “Managing Burnout as a Creative” workshop provided me with some great resources on how to approach my own burnout. Hallie Tibbetts’ “Heteronormativity in Young Adult Fantasy” paper/lecture emphasized that while you don’t have to write what you know, you do have to know what you write. And the “Here, Queer, and Changing the World: Sexuality and Gender in Worldbuilding” panel added so many queernorm books to my TBR.

On Saturday, Mishell Baker’s keynote had me thinking about a lot of things, but most of all, it had me thinking about the ways in which communities can be more inclusive and compassionate. The panel “Why We Write About War” was so interesting, barely scratching the surface of the topic, but we were given this helpful handout that I plan on examining more closely soon. Amy Tenbrink’s “Witch, Please: An Apologia for and Indictment of Mean Girls Stories in Young Adult Fantasy Literature” paper/lecture fired me up! Kit Auner’s “‘Girls’ Disguised as ‘Boys’: The Evolution of the CrossDressing Hero(ine)” paper/lecture was so well researched, breaking down the girl-disguised-as-boy trope; it was timely given that I’m going to see Twelfth Night, or What You Will (my favorite Shakespearean play) soon. Ausma Zehanat Khan’s keynote gave me a greater appreciation for her Khorasan Archives series; the series was truly written from her heart. The “Shackled, Raped, Mad, Fridged: Game of Thrones” paper/lecture, like the “Witch, Please” paper/lecture, fired me up! Finally, the “Navigating New Waters: Understanding the Nuances of Creating Disabled and Mentally Ill Characters” workshop by V. S. Holmes provided me with some great resources, especially since writing about disability is something I have very little experience doing.

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