Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Utopia 2016 Experience

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm gonna tell you about my Utopia Con 2016 experience (and show you some photos). If you're ready, let's get rolling. This is gonna be long, so I'd appreciate you hanging in here with me. *grin*

As you all may know, I attended Utopia Con June 22-26. This year was so very different for me for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't have a table Thursday. Well, I did, but I gave that day to my bestie, Tia Silverthorne Bach, so neither of us would have to be chained to anything for two days. I had a panel to moderate and a signing in the hallway until lunch the first day, so my books would've just been sitting there. Not good. I also had no desire to hire or request a booksitter. No one sells my books quite like I do.

Just sayin'.

Tia and her daughter came in a few days early, and we went dress shopping for the awards (photos of said dress are to come). When Wednesday arrived, we loaded up with Shantella Huddleston-Benson and hit the road. We arrived in Nashville around 11AM, and there were many squeals and hugs in the lobby.

From the left: Belle Smith, Nanette Bradford, Jamie Anderson, and Suzanna Lynn.

That night, Myra McEntire kicked things off with a keynote speech.
Thursday started at 6AM!

Alessandra Torre's keynote kicked off our day, and she was such a good speaker. Very engaging! Plus, I found out she's a fan of one of the same authors I love. Instant sister! haha!

My panel was one of the first and was on blogging. I had a dream team of bloggers in that room, and I chose each one for their specific, different qualities/focuses. Ashley Bodette was there with all her publishing knowledge, Christina Marie brought a Book Tuber focus, Ethan Gregory gave us insight on working with publishers (not to mention the male perspective), Ren Reidy is a reader blogger, and I brought the author blogger side to the conversation. I felt we had all the bases covered. If you click on their names, you'll be taken to their blog or YouTube channel. I strongly suggest you check them out.

And it ended up being standing room only. Seriously. Our panel was packed.

We handed out booklets with blogging tips and room for notes, and we did a little giveaway.

Thursday afternoon, I had dinner with the keynote speakers Alessandra Torre and Alex Flynn. Lucky me, I got to sit at the table with the one and only Geneva Lee! Also at my table was Geneva's sister, Elyse; Liz Long; Tia Bach; and Kelly Oechslin.

We had an amazing dinner, and our table was the loudest, most boisterous one there (imagine that). There was so much laughter happening it made my face hurt.

Of course, I took a pic or two of the food, but I had already started eating it, so I won't share those here. But we DID do a table selfie!

After we ate, I got pics with the keynote speakers (plus Geneva and her beautiful sister) in their dressy outfits. From the left: Alessandra, Alex, Geneva, and Elyse.

I was up late in Casey Bond's room chatting about writing and super secret F5 stuff, but I managed to get in bed early enough that I wasn't dragging the next day.

Friday started at 6AM.

Alex Flynn gave her keynote, and wow was it inspirational!

Then, the exhibitor hall opened, and I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger until 3:30PM. I had to shut my table down early so I could help the other ladies get ready for the 7 party. Let me tell you, that was a BLAST! We had a room FULL of people, and each one of them had a copy of the book (that was the only way to get an entry ticket). Several had read it, but everyone wanted to win one of our "sinful" prize baskets. Here are some photos:


Bottom photo, from left (the Ferocious 5): Casey L. Bond, N. L. Greene, Tia Silverthorne Bach, me, and Kelly Risser. Yes, that's a giant 7 balloon. Don't judge us! *grin*

As you can see, we had a BLAST! Near the end, we did a quick Q&A about 7. SO FUN!

Well, the ladies of the F5 weren't done. We had a new project to plan. So, we broke everything down, cleaned up, and headed to mine and Tia's room to do some major brainstorming.

Let me tell you what, the five of us in a room is like magic. Amazing things come out of these meetings, and I'm so grateful to have these four women in my life. You'll see the results starting in March. It's a big project, but we're gonna KILL IT, and you guys are gonna LOVE it!

Anywhooooo, Saturday dawned bright and lovely!

For the first time ever, we had a free day to go explore the city of Nashville. Before we left the hotel, I was sitting outside waiting, and the cutest little girl, named Sophie, came out and asked me to sign her copy of Writing Prompts for Kids. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, and her book had the most amazing character profile written out. Plus, she created an awesome cover! This was by far the BEST moment at Utopia. Smart, well spoken child. We'll be seeing big things from her.

After everyone was ready, we headed over to the place where Antique Archeology was (long line to get in), and did some shopping. I was with Tia, her daughter, Kelly, and M. H. Soars. It was so fun! If you're a fan of American Pickers, you'll appreciate the upcoming photo. We also found a really cool soda jerk. Kelly and I partook, and it was delicious!

Back to the hotel for a 3:30PM interview for Tia with Christina Marie.

I went to my room and starting doing my hair for the awards (I have a lot of hair), and N. L. Greene helped me put it up and make it prettyful.

Cocktail hour began at 5:30, and it was sponsored by Geneva Lee and the launch of her book GILT: By Invitation Only (be sure and grab it; it's FREE right now on Amazon). And here's the pic of the dress I promised you!

Everyone looked so lovely. I got to see my darling Carlyle Labuschagne and the one and only Maria Pease.

Then it was time to be seated for the awards. Yeah, we're goofballs!

While I didn't win any of the awesome 2016 awards that were up for grabs, I was nominated in a number of categories. It was such an honor! Random photos happened in the hallway! This is me with the amazing Tina Donnelly!

After the awards was the dance party. I don't dance in heels, so I ran upstairs to change. Might have wanted to re-think that a little! Amanda asked me to take a photo with her. haha!

Anywho, we were so exhausted, we hit the bed pretty early.

Sunday morning was the open floor keynotes. Before they started, because I knew we had to slink out by 10:30AM, I did speed selfies (I love catching folks looking their natural best). Here are the results:


As you can see, it was a blast! If you haven't made it to a Utopia, I urge you to go. There's no place quite like it. 2017 will be in a new venue, will be just two days in length, and has the carnival freak show theme! Check out the available ticket packages here. Sales will be open again VERY soon, so know what you want!

I've spent over a week recuperating. It's really that intense. I also had no voice for three days upon my return home.

Worth every second.

Where's the link to your experience? Drop them in the comments so I can check them out!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next week, WRITE ON!



  1. So much fun! So glad Jackie and I got to hang out with you before. <3

  2. Love you to pieces! I had such a great time. :)

  3. Love this post. Love you more. (Why is there no cowboy hat emoji??!!!!)

    1. there should totally be a cowboy hat emoji.

  4. Great photos and energy! Fabulous.

  5. Great post! :D I loved the blogger panel! The pamphlets were awesome! I loved that I could remember exactly who was involved with it with a quick glance at the photos in it.

  6. These pictures are awesome. Thank you so much for being a part of the fun every year! xoxo


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