That’s me, on the left, with my besite, Author Casey Bond (right) and my street team leader, Michelle Hart (middle). Why are we all dressed up? Well, we were at the UtopYa 2014 Awards, of course!
What’s UtopYa you ask? Well, let me tell you about it…
First of all, you need to understand that there is no real way to sum up how INCREDIBLE this book con is but I am going to give it my best.
So, this was my first con, of hopefully many, but I don’t think any will ever compare. I didn’t fall in love with it because of how organized it was – it was incredibly organized – or because of the nice hotel – because it was nice and there were pretty things to look at all day such as Tennessee Titan football players. I fell in love with UtopYa because of the people – authors, readers, bloggers, cover designers, etc. The people are what make this con so incredible.
You may walk in feeling alone or out of place but when you leave… you feel like you are leaving your family behind and you are sad. You know it will happen again next year, and that people will come and fun will be had, but you are still sad because for the next 360 days, you are without some of the greatest people you have ever met. It’s times like that I an thankful for social media. Facebook is good!
So, here’s a little about what went on, for me at least, at this year’s UtopYa.
1. THE DRIVE DOWN – let me just say that ANY time a a 7 1/2 hour drive takes you 10 hours, you can say the drive sucked. Yeah, that happened! I feel as though I drove through every available construction cone in the state of Indiana.
2. MY ARRIVAL – I was literally lifted off the ground by my bestie, Casey Bond. This was the first time we met. I know it sounds weird to call her my best friend if we had never met before but I don’t think you understand just how amazing this woman is. You should check her out, and her books. Not to mention – she has the most AMAZING personality and her accent is awesomesauce. I started to sound a little like er by the time I left and I was just fine with that.
So, we got checked in, got our bag-o-free-stuff which had an actual paperback in it and a bunch of great swag from the attending authors. We had to make 4 or 5 trips, but we eventually got everything out of my car and Casey’s car with the help of my trusty wagon. Yes, I probably looked silly pulling a large utility tote wagon through the nice hotel, but I didn’t care. Books are heavy!
3. SWAG MAKING – The first night was spent meeting new faces and making some swag. After that, we ordered a few pizzas and kicked back until it was time to set up our table. Now, Casey and I put a LOT of thought into what we wanted to make our table look like since we were sharing. Our Theme: The Beach or “Tiki Bar”. Once that was set up, we went back to the room and crashed for the ngiht.
You’re probably thinking… that doesn’t sound very exciting. Well, that was just the beginning of it all.
4. SIGNING DAY 1 – Holy WOW! There were so many people, so many faces that I recognized, so many people that I had connected with on Facebook that I got to meet. It was incredible. And then, there were the new faces and the new people. Everyone was so kind and friendly. I’m not going to lie, I felt out of place for maybe the first hour. I felt like I was a nobody, that nobody would want to talk to me or buy my books. Well, in the bigger scheme of things, I am a nobody in a sense. I’m new to the Indie community. I’m new to the book con scene. But, at the end of the day, I felt like I was a part of everything. That’s the great thing about the Indie community: they welcome you with open arms.
Those are just a few photo’s – I’m a bad girl. I didn’t take a lot of photos. I was too excited. I forgot I even had my camera until the last night and then I didn’t feel like accessorizing my pretty dress with a big camera. The one photo I wish I had is of me, Casey and the AMAZING Carol Kunz (or you may know her as Amanda Jason). I had a HUGE fangirl moment when I met her and I didn’t care. I still don’t. She’s incredible and to be able to talk to her was beyond words can describe. She also happens to be the nicest person ever!
5. DAY 2 – This day was even more exciting for me because now I knew some faces, I had met some people, and I didn’t feel alone anymore or like I was Casey’s sidekick. Remember how I told you she was awesome? Yeah, well she also knows EVERYONE. She is just that awesome. I made a few friends, signed some books, talked about myself to random people (which is still a little weird to me) and felt myself relax. It was fun, right up until the moment that we had to break down our table and it was almost over. That’s when it got a little sad. Then, I remembered that we still had a big night ahead of us…
Before I tell you about the big night, I just want to mention that UtopYa con offered a TON of panels for you to attend that ranged from Marketing 101 to Street Teams. I didn’t make it to any of the panels this year because I was afraid to miss an opportunity to talk with someone at the table. I WILL NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE NEXT YEAR. Everyone has been sharing notes from panels and I think my one regret from the whole con was that I didn’t go to panels. There was so much great information.
6. THE AWARDS – Our big night! No, I was not nominated for an award. That would have been really cool but I’m so not ready for any of that yet. The big night was fun. The hotel set up a “refreshments” area in the lobby. Note to self: the blue wagon is hard to drive. Steer clear of all tables with long shirts over them as the wheels of the wagon will catch and pull all breakable object off the table where they will shatter in front of everyone that is watching. Yes, that happened. It’s funny now, not funny then.
After that embarrassing moment, the girls and I got all dressed up, hair did, makeup on, and made our way back down to the lobby where we were met with more beautiful dresses and gorgeous faces. Everyone looked amazing. The attired ranged from evening dresses to skirts and nice tops. It didn’t matter what you wore, it only mattered that you came to support your fellow Indies. The awards seemed to go by quickly, with many popular names winning some amazing awards. All well deserved.
There was a dance a party after that I didn’t go to. This white girl CANNOT dance and I was not about to make a fool out of myself in front of the people that I just met. That and I was tired. Oh yeah, and I was thinking that I had ANOTHER 10 hours drive ahead of me in the morning. So, sleep trumped dance party.
7. BITTERSWEET GOODBYE – I was up and gone by 6:30am. If I had a long drive ahead of me then I was going to be n the road early. With a final hug from the bestie – and the AWESOME Julia Roop – I was on the highway home. Thankfully, the drive took the standard 7 1/2 hours. I flew through construction like it wasn’t even there and arrived back home safely.
To sum up my trip: A-FREAKIN-MAZING!!! I can’t wait to do it again next year. Even if I can’t get a table, I will be going to Nashville and seeing all the amazing authors, bloggers and readers I met this year. This is a one-of-a-kind con that you don’t want to miss. So, start making plans, everyone. You are going to want to be there next year!
Here is the website for UtopYa: http://utopyacon.com/ It will update with the 2015 information when it’s time.
Here is the link for earlybird tickets if you KNOW you are going to be there: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/utopya-2015-write-your-own-future-tickets-11253334025
So, why was this con so inspiring? Besides the people, besides the fun, besides the community? I FINALLY got my characters to talk to me again! So, not only is it inspiring to watch the others and learn from them and the community but I was also inspired to write. AND I DID! I finished Secrets & Lies only 4 days after I got home. (That’s the reason this post is going up so late)
I hope you all can join us next year and find your inspiration. They have added a day to the con – making it 4 days now instead of 3 – and packed so much more fun in.