Sirens 2014 – Hauntings

When I decided to go to Sirens, I had both info about what it was like…and a tentative picture of what I hoped that meant.

A con where regular attendees could create programming? AW YISS

Probably a lot of people don’t care about creative input to conference or convention programming, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. So after combing through the info on how to submit an idea, and the types of programming accepted, I sent in an idea for a “roundtable”–in which I posed questions that anyone who attended could participate in answering.

I was so thrilled to have my submission accepted. (“The Ghostly Hands – Mothers, Maids, and Mistresses in Literature” is what I went with–something I’d immediately thought about when considering ghosts in literature. I do metaphorical more than literal ghosts…)

This answered one question anyway–was it pretty doable to submit programming? Absolutely. And it felt just like getting an acceptance from a magazine.

While the vibe of a very conversational, small conference really appealed to me, I try not to hold too many expectations of something completely new. I couldn’t help but hope that it would be more relaxed. And about literary discussion of genre fiction–something a lot of convention programming tries for, but lacks because of how general conversation needs to be.

I am determined to go back next year, because it was *exactly* that.

You could (and were encouraged by the format to) sit down with new groups of people and just geek out about stuff. The theme of hauntings ran through the discussions as something to deliberate as a metaphor for women in writing, too. And early October in the Pacific Northwest is a *perfect* time for ghost-stories.

I was new, with only one specific friend to join up with, but everyone I came across was happy to say hello, to strike up conversation. More than I could have hoped, the intimate numbers and common areas meant that it was easy to join other people. The fact that everyone was eager to welcome someone they didn’t know yet–that is a tribute to the organizers and the atmosphere they’ve created.

The Breakfast with Books idea of grabbing your breakfast and then choosing a table for a book-discussion is brilliant. (And now I know why the recommended reading list is actually a Thing You Want to Do.) Having a hike-with-GOH part of the programming is great–having a flexible enough program that when it’s rainy you can all decide for cocoa by the fire instead is even better.

In fact, the schedule was so flexible that there were programming spots open for spontaneous scheduling. I decided I wanted an anime/manga hour–others made sure there was a Legend of Korra watching party.

This is the kind of conference I want to support. So next year I’m not only planning to go, and recruit friends, I’m also going to bring money to spend at their auction, which is rife with tantalizing goods for a cause.

Sirens 2015 is in Denver! If you want the early, early previous-guest price link, contact me for it–they say it’s fine to share.