[Partially written on 10/10/10 before life got in the way and other manifestas needed to be written.]
I just got back into Seattle this evening and thus I bring you as much of a first report on the epic that is Sirens Conference as my brain (which is still on mountain time and thus precisely one hour ahead) can handle before collapsing into mush.
First impressions include: OMG PRETTY; an undeniable attraction to shiny, glittery things; sheer gratitude that free caffeine was offered at almost every opportunity; relief that everyone was chill and awesome; and the sense of being welcomed, by the Sirens staff, the Vail Cascade resort staff, and the attendees.
Sirens is a labor of love. It really is. This isn't a huge, sprawling con with hundreds or thousands of attendees; it's still in its infancy, a baby conference trying out its wings for the first (or in this case, second) time. The staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure every person's experience was positive, respectful, and fun. They set the tone for the conference, and it could not have happened without their hard work.
As one of the organizers explained at the keynote, Sirens is a motley combination of various qualities found in different types of cons--it's part academic, part fannish, and part retreat. All three elements (plus more that I probably forgot) contributed to the experience, and although I went primarily for the academic bent, the fannish side of me skipped around in glee at all the pro-female geekery going down, and I felt the retreat aspect all the way down to my bones.
My presentation (on portrayals of women's strength and sexuality in urban fantasy and paranormal romance) went very well. I spoke for about 40 minutes (the longest amount of time that I think I have ever spoken in my life) before we dived into a great discussion. One thing I noticed about all the presentations, panels, and roundtables was that every person in the room simply loved the topic at hand. Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic and wanted to be there. I'll do a break down of some of the programming that I went to in the next post, but for now suffice to say every last bit of it was fabulous, and I came back feeling both relaxed and re-energized.
*The registration fee for next year's con is $150 if you register here before November 1st. I also recognize that the expensive nature of the con is significant in many ways, which I promise to address in my next report.