My UtopYA 2014 Experience
by Jo Michaels
I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs about attending UtopYA Con 2014. I did a couple of things along the way to ease those fears (like my author interview series), but I still felt my knees knocking when I walked through the doors of the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, Tennessee, on the Thursday afternoon before the con began.
Those nervous moments didn't last long; there was too much to do/see. As soon as I walked in, I spotted the ever awesome Eva Pohler. Not long after, I spied Toni Lesatz, C. A. Kunz (both of them), and an hour or so later N. L. Greene, Kelly Risser, and Casey L. Bond arrived.
Then, I spied Carlyle Labuschagne. That's when the squeeing began.
There were many hugs, lots of "I know you! So good to put a face with the name." going around, and many, many business cards changing hands. This crazy (yes, I do mean bonkers) "moment" kept going all afternoon.
At six, Tia and I snuck out to the pool area with Kelly Risser, N. L. Greene, and Casey L. Bond. We worked from six until about nine on ideas we had for our YA anthology. There were lots of great things flying around that table, let me tell you. We'll be bringing you something never done before. Keep your eyes out for that.
Because I drove up to Nashville, I'd been up since around 5am. At this point, I was ready to pass out. After hauling our books down and setting up our table, Tia and I excused ourselves and ducked back to our room for some much needed sleep. We knew the next day would start earlier than we really wanted to get up.
At 6am, it began again. Breakfast took longer than it should've and we were late for the keynote speech. *facepalm* Yeah, next time, I get up at 5. After that, we literally talked non-stop, marketed our books, and met authors until 10pm. I also had the Friday night fan invasion to attend. With Sylvia Day there, the line was humongous. Moving books and swag off my regular table and out the door to another one (and back again later) was fun in a strange way. I chatted with the authors near me and made some new friends. Don't judge, I'm able to befriend darn near anyone. Yeah, we sang Baby Got Back in the hotel bar, but the networking never stopped. My face hurt from smiling so much. By 11, we were back in our room. Tia spent the nights working on an edit for a client of INDIE Books Gone Wild (now that's dedication), and I read a book in bed while decompressing from the day's craziness and trying not to have a nervous breakdown from being so on edge all day.
Saturday was just as nuts. I face-planted in bed after the awards and dance party. No, I only had one drink (it's good to be responsible) so that wasn't it. My throat was killing me, and I'd been running all day. If there was a moment to breathe in there, I missed it--or maybe I was moving so fast I got caught in a time-warp continuum and the moment came later than it should've.
By this point, I was missing my husband and my own bed fiercely. I left Sunday morning (early). While this guaranteed I missed out on some of the super fun stuff going on at the con, I couldn't help it. Remember, I had a pretty good drive ahead of me.
Was it worth it? YES. Will I do it again next year? YES. Why? Because, for the first time in my life, I felt normal. No one looked at me like I had ten heads when I talked about dragons, zombies, or mutated mushrooms that want to kill me. It was accepted, embraced, and even encouraged. Was it overload that'll wipe you out but leave you teeming with ideas? YES.
Do it. If you've been sitting on the fence about attending a writer's con, come to UtopYA in 2015. I can't speak for other cons; but this one treats every author (traditional or Indie) like a rock star. Get your tickets here.
Advice for newcomers:
- Sleep well before you come. You won't get much rest once the con begins.
- Bring cough drops or drink a lot of warm tea or coffee. Your voice will thank me later.
- Pack with intelligence. Remember! You need a dress or some nice clothes for the awards, and whatever clothes you're comfortable in for the other days. Trust me, sneakers are your friends.
- Don't drink so much you can't walk. I realize you're getting out of the house for the first time in forever, but be responsible; you never know who's watching you and noticing. This is a gathering of professionals. Be professional. Your career is in your hands here.
- Get to the con early (before Thursday). They'll let you set your stuff up the night before. You can thank me later.
- Find a friend with wheels. No, I don't mean a car. I'm talking about a wagon, cart, or something else that has wheels. Again, you can thank me later.
- Use the time every night after the con to decompress. You won't have time to hang out and relax during the day, so set aside some quiet reading time or something before you plan to sleep. Yes, this may mean you leave a gathering just a little early. But your body will be grateful, and you'll be happy you were responsible.
- Set an alarm. Don't be late for the prize giveaways every morning. If you aren't there, they give what you might have won to someone else. And they give fabulous prizes.
- Take the time to look at photos on Facebook and author websites or join me here for the author interview series I'm doing. You'll know at least a few people when you arrive if you bother to do this. It makes all the difference in the world.
- The Con will be here before you know it. Start prepping and buying swag and table decor now. That way, you aren't in a mad rush to get it all before the big day.
- Set aside boxes and label them UtopYA Con 2015. Put anything you buy for the con directly into the boxes so you don't forget to bring your goodies.
~ The End
Now to tell you all about the blogs on the tour, the prizes up for grabs, and give you a Rafflecopter entry form!
Here's the hop list:
Christina Mercer - August 4th - Blog Link
Nichole Greene - August 5th - Blog Link
Delphina Henley - August 6th - Blog Link
Kelly A Risser - August 6th - Blog Link
Nanette Bradford - August 7th - Blog Link
Amy Evans - August 8th - Blog Link
Chelsea Starling - August 9th - Blog Link
Carlyle Labuschagne - August 12th - Blog Link
Anna Cruise - August 14th - Blog Link
Becca Vincenza - August 18th - Blog Link
Raine Thomas - August 19th - Blog Link
Casey L Bond - August 19th - Blog Link
Jo Michaels - August 21st - You're there now
Shelley Custer - August 26th - Blog Link
Nely Cab - August 27th - Blog Link
Chelsea Fine - August 28th - Blog Link
Rachel Harris - August 29th - Blog Link
Amber Garr - August 29th - Blog Link
Heather Hildenbrandt - August 30th - Blog Link
Susan Burdorf - August 30th - Blog Link
Now for the prize packs (there are FIVE!) and each has a Rafflecopter entry form that will follow the image:
Visit Delphinia's blog to enter to win the first prize pack.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you waiting for? Get on it!
How many of these great giveaways did you enter?
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!