Tuesday, June 24, 2014

UtopYA Con 2014 - Take Me to Your Reader - Images and Information

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Wow! I just spent four days in Nashville, TN at my first writer's con. It was amazing, and I'm gonna share my experience with you.

Let me begin by telling you about the amazing people I met. I may accidentally leave someone off this list (if I do, you have my deepest apologies). I'm also gonna say a little about each one. Beware, this is a long list and in no particular order!

Carol and Adam Kunz - These two were like a mini comedy troupe. But, Adam did carry the big bucket of books Tia and I were dragging down the hall to our table. Carol is now in possession of both I, Zombie and Depression Cookies. She was so frikkin sweet!
Casey L. Bond - She was even more amazing in person than she is online! I know, how's that possible, right? But it's true!
Felicia Tatum - Known her online for a while, met her face to face at the con. She's got a wicked sense of humor.
Carlyle Labuschagne - I was thrilled to get to meet this extremely classy lady. She's adorable, fun, and always had the biggest smile. Probably the only time I'll ever get to hang out with her because she's from South Africa. Priceless (like her accent!).
Misty Provencher - She was so cool. Her face was painted with awesome curls and adored with gems. She huggled everyone and handed out amazing salted caramels.
Amy Evans - Adorable! She was so friendly and cute. I wanted to chat with her for hours, but time restraints held us back.
Bethany Lopez - Another author I was sooo very excited to meet! She brought her daughter along. It was awesome to have a young adult there!
Christina Mercer - She sat next to me Friday night for the Fan Invasion event. Very elegant lady and so fun to chat with. Strong sense of self-confidence radiated from her being.
Toni Lesatz - She is my coffee goddess. Seriously, between manning the table and running hither and thither, I had zero time to visit Starbucks. Toni shows up and hands me a cup. I almost died it was such a sweet gesture. Friends for life. Seriously. I adore thoughtful people. If you don't know Toni, get to know her.
Sarah Ashley Jones - Just as amazing in person as she is online. No. More so. She's always laughing, smiling, and having fun. Plus, her dress for the awards was stellar! So beautiful.
Eva Pohler - Wow. She's such an interesting lady. I only got to sit down with her once on day 1, but I'm so glad I had that chance. There was a dinner at the Parthenon in Nashville with her on Sunday that I didn't get to go to, but how awesome is it that she set that up?
Elizabeth Kirke - Loved her dark mark tattoo. She's a humble, sweet soul with a charm about her that you miss once you walk away.
Michelle G Miller - Such a pretty lady! She was soft spoken, very tall, and super sweet.
N. L. Greene - Probably one of the sweetest people on the planet. She's crazy adorable, talks about her baby girls all the time (love), and smiles at you in a way that lights up your soul. Besides that, she's fun to hang out with (yeah, I made her sing, too!). *evil grin*
S. G. Daniels - Had to stalk her in order to meet her face to face, but so glad I did. She was lovely. Ever meet that person who radiates awesomeness? That's her.
Donna Dull - Didn't get but a moment or two here and there, but this lady will melt your heart. She's a recovering introvert who never missed a new connection as she ran around like crazy. Always had a smile on, and was super duper friendly.
Nely Cab - Stalked her down, too! Met her last year at the Decatur Book Festival and said hello, but didn't check out her books until this year. She's petite, cray cray adorbs, and soooo pretty!
Susan Burdorf - I only saw her for a moment as she ran up to collect the prize for the scavenger hunt giveaway she was doing, but we shared a hug and a few words. She loves all her UtopYA peeps so much!
Natasha Hanova - I did a piece on her blog about the writing business, and then I saw her at a table right across the way from me! I squealed, ran over, and gave her a massive hug! We got to chat a couple of times. She's so nice, open, and approachable. Meet this lady!
Chelsea Starling - I think about her and have to smile. She's kinda nutty, sosoooo elegant, always smiling, and delivers joy as she flits from person to person like a butterfly. Oh, and this lady has style! She was always very well dressed (like, to the nines every single day).
Megan Curd - Reminds me a lot of me. Prefers jeans to a dress, is fun and funny, and loves all things creative. She brought her L glass, but I didn't have time to touch it. Sad. I had a moment to chat with her, and she's also very down-to-earth real. Felt like I was chatting with an old friend.
Barbara (BJ) Sheldon - Not someone I knew before UtopYA. Holy wow am I glad I met her. There was never a dull moment. I think I did a little too much preaching at her table, but she was a JOY to hang out with once I talked to her a little. Can you say 80's dance off? Yes we did. She was fun, gorgeous, and so... Well, the only word I can come up with is Princess-like. Yes. Grace. She glittered like runway Barbie at the awards program.
Bella Roccaforte - Possibly one of the most brilliant marketing minds I've ever run across. She has fire-engine red hair and I could feel the smart radiating from her. It took two moments of engagement to realize: This lady has it together. Analyst, real, and classy. Yeah, no way am I letting her out of that lunch she suggested we have!
Lisah Stephens - Just had a moment with her, and it passed very quickly, but she seems really nice. Every time I saw her in passing, she was wearing a smile. All good with me!
Krystal Wade - Yoga teacher! (I have since been informed she was not the yoga instructor. LOL! She was the one talking about yoga early in the morning and my brain made the jump. Incorrectly, I might add). I don't know how people could even move, personally. We discussed snakes (and compared photos) and her three acres. Oh yes. This was one exhausting weekend! But she was centered and relaxed (even without the yoga), always with a smile on her face. Conversation flowed like water over rocks. She smiles and it lights up her whole being. Adore!
Nanette Del Valle Bradford - Her outfit for the awards was amazing! Yeah, she got my compliment. I didn't have a chance to sit down and chat with her, but we were part of some of the same discussions. She's a keen person and has those eyes that show you she's working things out in her head as those around her talk.
Justine Vandale - Came all the dang way from Canada! She was sooooooo nice! Just a tiny little thing with a huge personality. Loved her quick wit and wicked sense of humor. My favorite: "Nice accent you have there." *grin* Yes, she did. I was cracking up.
Tia Silverthorne Bach - My roomie! She's also my coworker at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I love that she wasn't a huge party animal who kept me awake. Know what she did every night? Worked! I love that kind of dedication to a client. She worked while I read myself to sleep. It was a wonderful arrangement and I couldn't have asked for a better roommate. In the mornings (it was super early) she bounced right out of bed with nary a groan. *win* Finally getting to meet her in person, she was everything I hoped she'd be. I'm very lucky to be able to call her friend. She's just beautiful inside and out.
Terri Barber - Adore! We talked for a long time when she stopped by my table to gather her pre-ordered books. Why did she pre-order them? Because they're different. Not the same old stuff. I'd be willing to bet she and I would have lovely, long conversations about books we've read. She was so open and willing to meet someone new, too! What a sweetie! Oh, and I loved her hair! Too cool!
Megan Toffoli - She had me cracking up on more than one occasion. She smiled the whole time. I don't know how she didn't have a massive headache at the end of the day. But she kept going. I ran into her a lot! It was awesome.
Shelley Custer - For an introvert, she was very outgoing! I loved meeting her and chatting. She's got a big smile and is always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You'd love her.
Stacey Nixon - Yeah, from the UK?! She was there and was totally fabulous. When her and her crew got on the elevator to go to the awards, they stole my breath away. Stunning ladies! They were also loads of fun.
Allyson Gottlieb - This is one young lady you have to meet. She's such a ray of sunshine in every situation. Not often you get to meet someone like her. Very giving, sweet, and man was she happy to be at UtopYA. I don't think anything could've erased her smile.
Amber Shawl Garr - Wow. She was radiating happy the whole weekend. I have to say, she's a lovely edition to this list. I could go on and on about how gracious she was. Stopping now before it gets weird. LOL
Kat Nequette - How much awesomesauce can be packaged? Kat. And that's a lot. I was so happy she came by my table to say hello and pick up her books. We also got a picture together! *squee* She was another one I reallllly wanted to meet! So glad I did.
Michelle Hart - She worked the hell out of UtopYA Con. It was completely amazing to meet her. She's such a beautiful young lady with a killer smile and a huggles attitude. Adorbs!
Kelly Risser - One of the lovely ladies who'll be working on "the anthology that turned into a novel with five different sections written by five different authors" with Tia, N. L. Greene, Casey, and me. Kelly was so easy to talk to and her brain was like clockwork. She spit out so many ideas, I wanted to hug her for being awesome!
Chelsea Fine - Just as her name sounds. She's gorgeous, clever, and refined. Like many of the people there, she always had a huge smile and approachable attitude. I only spoke with her for a moment, but she was funny and gracious.
Mary Ting - Made her way over to my table and introduced herself (yeah, she was on my list of must-meet authors). I got a hug and a number of nice words from her before I made her enter our book giveaway for IBGW. Well, she won! Well deserved, too! Mary always had a big smile and a great attitude. Must meet!
Teal Haviland - Beautiful woman with an equally beautiful daughter. They were so stunning at the awards. And that little girl of Teal's completely rocked the dance floor at the after party!
Nancy Byers - Yes. This lady! I'd been waiting to meet Nancy for a long time, too! Luckily, she stopped by my table at the Fan Invasion and I got the chance! *grin* She was lovely. So much fun to chat with.
Kendall McCubbin - Who came all the stinkin' way from Scotland! Yeah she did. It was the most amazing, thrilling, fan encounter ever! She's another youngling I couldn't get enough of. Always had a smile and was having the best time! She's also remarkably brilliant for one so young. I was impressed.
Janet Wallace - She's the amazing woman who created UtopYA Con. I never got more than a moment to speak with her, but she had a lot going on. I'm not one to bog people down with my presence. Janet was a beautiful speaker with a wicked sense of style. I loved her outfit every single day. Besides, she's the one who found us Gennifer Albin as a keynote speaker. I'll get to that in a moment. But if you ever have the chance to sit down with Janet, do it. Then write me and tell me about it so I can pretend it was me. *grin*
Christine Marquette - I spoke with her every chance I got. She's a wealth of information and so very creative. She's so tiny, I was scared I was gonna break her when I hugged her. I do believe we got a picture together, but I can't remember. I look forward to working with her in the future. Yeah, we talked shop. LOL
S. M. Boyce - I was soooo happy to meet her! It was like basking in the glow of the sun from close range. She's bright, sparkly, and has a killer smile. I adore people who are bouncy and full of life. She's one of those people. I can't wait to get to know her better! Wish I'd had more time at the dance party to chat with her, but we were going out as she was coming in. Gah!
Ginny Gallagher - Flooded her bathroom because of a shower curtain misunderstanding, used all her clean towels to soak up the water, and still arrived downstairs looking fab (with a funny story to boot). Spent a lot of time with Gin. She sat with us a lot, chatted when she could, and had a great sense of humor. I adore her to pieces.
Regan Claire - My table neighbor, reviewer of I, Zombie way back when, and bubbly as all getout. She was such a sweetie and you could tell she was there to work her books. Always had a smile, a kind word, and watched our stuff for us a couple times when Tia and I both had to run out. She was great.
Kris Lindemann Seek - I've only had a few people come up and tell me how awesome my blog is. Kris was one of those. It made me feel so good about what I do here. She wasn't afraid of anything (or didn't seem to be), and I loved meeting her so much.

So afraid I left someone off! If I didn't mention you in my list and we met, please accept my apologies! That's a long list and there were seven hundred people at the con. Besides all that, I'm getting wordy. LOL

Moving on!

Now, I'm gonna talk about the two keynote speakers!
First up, Sylvia Day!
Her message was inspiring and women empowering. She was so real to me as she stood at the podium and spoke about how she made it in the business. We got some great advice on what to (and not to) do with/during our careers. I didn't get a chance to meet her because I was behind a table for her signing, but everyone said she was a very cool lady.

Next, Gennifer Albin!
You may recognize her name from the cover of Crewel. Yup, the same Gennifer came to our conference. Boy do I have a lot to say right now. Stay with me! She was supposed to be the Friday morning speaker, but her plane was delayed seventeen hours, and she had to sleep in the cruddy airport on a crummy cot. Saturday morning, there she was, bright and bubbly for the con attendees. What got me was she could've turned around and gone home, and not a single person there would've blamed her. But she didn't. She arrived and told us a terrifying story of falling to the bottom of life before clawing her way out to rise to where she is today. It was moving, beautiful, and every woman in the room cried. She's the epitome of everything I want to be when I grow up. I'll shout her accolades from every rooftop.

I got to meet her at her signing the next morning. I put her book down for her to sign, and she started chatting with me like we'd been friends since we were in diapers. She's real, she's beautiful, and she's funny as hell. Time for a photo!

In order: Me, the awesomesauce that's Gennifer Albin, and the amazingness that's Barbara (BJ) Sheldon.

Yassa totally photobombed this. Do you see it? *grin*

Every day we were there, was a marathon. There wasn't a spare moment to make time to find anyone. Had I not come in the day before, I would've missed out on a lot. I'll share tips and hints about my trip over the next week in case you're thinking of attending next year. Then, we'll get back to our regularly scheduled program.

Do you know any of the ladies listed above?

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



  1. You are awesome for doing this! Your post will help many of us remember details that might have been otherwise forgotten. Love you bunches!

    1. Thanks, Eva! Miss your face, lady. You were so much fun.

  2. Ohhh I loved this. Loved, loved, loved this. You have such a keen eye for the beauty in people, Jo. I love you for that and I love this post. Thank you for noticing and letting me notice even more too. Wonderful post!

    1. Thanks, Misty :) I'm a very character-driven person in general. Man, do I have some great character fodder for books now. *wicked grin*

  3. You are completely adorable and amazing yourself! I am so glad I got the chance to meet you as well as many of the wonderful people who attended UtopoYA 2014!

    1. Thank you, Shelley! I'm glad to see you come out of your shell for the occasion. :)

  4. Awesome post by an awesome lady!!! Had such fun chatting it up with you <3 <3 <3

    1. Thanks, Christina! I'm so happy we were seated near one another :)

  5. You are awesome and I'm so glad we finally got to meet! :) I can't wait to spend more UtopYAs with you! :)

    1. I know, right? I saw your name on the list and I was like: EEEP! She read I, Zombie and loved it! :) HAD to meet you then.

  6. You are too awesome, Jo. Thank you for the compliments!

  7. Jo, I can't tell you how excited I was to FINALLY meet you!!! Gah, you're wonderful and gorgeous. I hope we get to see each other again VERY soon :D

    1. AMEN! I was thrilled to finally meet you, too! Thank you! *blushes* We shall!

  8. Thanks for the mention Jo!

    I think you forgot to add yourself to that list as in...Jo Michaels (that gal in the cowboy hat) vibrant wealth of information, Indie author supporter extraordinaire and published author.

    1. You're welcome, Christine! I enjoyed the heck out of chatting with you!

  9. I was lucky enough to be your across-the-miles-long-Sylvia-Day-line booth neighbor, where I was able to easily enjoy your cutest dimples in the world and prettiest smile and awesome laugh! Oh, and so freakin' cutiepie in that cowgirl hat! Plus: Ho-Ho the bear!! Who, thanks to my son, is wearing a book around his neck as a collar. (Ashgrove Chronicles). And he just loves Ho-Ho! You are way too rad, I hope I get to see you soon!!

    1. Awwwwwww! Thanks, Chelsea! You were an awesome table neighbor. So much fun that night, huh? :) I love that your son adores the bear. Makes me super happy.

  10. It sounds like such an amazing time!!! Love the pics and little tidbits about the attendees. Looking forward to your future posts in case I end up attending next year.

    1. Thanks, Heather! I can't wait to start sharing awesome information :) EEEEK! I hope you DO make it next year! That would be AMAZING! *does hopeful happy dance*


Comments for this blog have been turned off. The SPAM is out of control. Sorry.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.