UtopYA 2014 Recap!
One of the best decisions I could ever make was to attend UtopYA here in Nashville, TN. Seriously. What an amazing weekend! I got to meet so many amazing authors, bloggers, and professionals and it really made me so grateful that I am a part of this community.
I really like the intimacy of this conference. Not once did I feel that 'divide' between authors and readers. Everyone just mingled together and it was fantastic.
I was lucky enough to spend most of my time with the incredible Heather Lyons, who as most of you know, I am a huge fan of. I stepped in to help as her 'assistant' and she was kind enough to let me room with her while we were there! I got to take her around Nashville too, which was so much fun.
After getting checked in on Thursday, Heather and I went down and got dinner at one of my favorite places in Midtown, Soulshine Pizza Factory! We ate pizza and had a drink before heading back to the hotel. Thursday night was the Reader Abduction Party hosted by Tiffany King, Quinn Loftis, Adam and Carol Kunz. (JLA was also a host, but she couldn't make it due to flight malfunctions!)
The very first person I met was none other than Trisha Wolfe! I love her to pieces and OMG, she's my height! Her hubby was with her and he was really nice too!
I went down there for a little bit and played some Charades with Tiffany and a few others and I met Maria Pease from The Paisley Reader! Afterwards, I helped Heather get her table set up for the next two days, where I met Chelsea Fine, Shelly Crane, Amy Bartol, and a few other authors. It was so fun! Chelsea Fine is absolutely one of the sweetest, most beautiful people I've ever met and she was kind enough to gift me her Archers of Avalon series! <3!
Afterwards, Heather and I were both craving chocolate, so somehow I managed to get us over to East Nashville and to Jeni's for some ice cream right before they closed! Whew! It was so good! And now Heather is totally hooked! LOL.
Friday we started the conference off with an amazing talk by Sylvia Day! She was really inspiring to listen to and I liked hearing about what she thought publishing would be like. Heather and I ended up back in East Nashville for lunch at the Rose Pepper, a Mexican cantina. We were trying to go to the famous Pharmacy, but the line was a bit crazy. We did get to sit in on the Hybrid Author panel where Chelsea Cameron, Chelsea Fine, C.C. Hunter, and Tiffany King talked about indie vs traditional publishing. It was really interesting to hear about! And oh look! I saw Rachel Harris and Ashley Bodette here too!
I also got to see KP again from InkSlinger and she is one of the sweetest people I know. She introduced me and Erica to Amanda Havard and Kallie Ross, who both live here in Nashville! They are also really great!
Friday night was the Fan Invasion Event, where over 80 authors were signing. Erica Chick and I beelined for Sylvia Day so we could get our books signed before the monster line we knew would form! She was really nice and had free Cross Industries t-shirts that we both snagged!
Sylvia Day and myself
I got to talk to C.J. Redwine and Megan Curd, which is always fun, and got books signed by Keary Taylor, Kristie Cook, and Anna Cruise- just to name a few.
Tiffany King and I
Left: Me and Morgan Wylie
Right: Me and Chelsea Fine
I also got to hang out and chat with Kathryn from Tsk, Tsk What to Read! She is so much fun and so sweet! We have a lot in common, so it was great talking to her!
Kathryn, myself, Heather, Erica, and LeAnn (Lyons Pride!)
Kathryn, Erica, Heather, and myself
That night Heather, myself, Erica, Maria, Ashley, and Rachel all made our way out downtown. With the exception of me being pulled over for an expired tag (thanks Chevy dealership!) and a minor car accident for poor Erica (some drunk girl hit her car in the parking garage!), we had a great time! We ate dinner at Margaritaville and listened to a really decent cover band with a really cute lead singer!
Me, Ashley, Maria, Heather, Erica, and Rachel
Afterwards we decided to hit up The Big Bang, which is a dueling piano bar. It was really fun!
Heather, me, Maria, Rachel, Erica, Ashley
Me and Ashley being silly with an alien! (Right before we got on the elevator with some MASSIVE Titan players!)
We didn't get in until really late, so waking up Saturday morning SUCKED. LOL. We did make it downstairs to hear Gennifer Albin talk, thankfully. She was amazing! I also went to the Blog Your Face Off panel that featured two favorites: Toni from My Book Addiction and Kathryn from Tsk, Tsk What To Read! I loved listening to these gals talk about blog tours and blogging in general!
That night Heather, Rachel, Ashley, Erica, and myself went and ate dinner at the Loveless Café before the awards ceremony to get them some real southern food! The awards ceremony was a blast (as was the cash bar) and the dance party that followed was such a great time! Who knew?! Not only did we dance up a storm, but I got to talk to Mindy Ruiz a bit and she is awesome! I'm so excited for her debut novel, Enchanted Heart! Megan Curd stole the show on the dance floor though with her killer moves. I love her energy so much!
Erica, Heather, and myself (Pre-Awards ceremony)
Heather, Maria, me, Rachel (with Erica and Ashley cut off in the background!)
They had a photobooth type thing there too which was silly and fun.
Sunday was the final day of UtopYA and wow, I had no idea how emotional it would be. Janet opened the floor to us to talk about experiences, changes, etc and I was teary-eyed the entire time listening to these people get up and talk about what UtopYA has done for them in both their writing and personal lives. I am so thankful to have been able to be a part of it and meet so many amazing individuals! I cannot wait for next year!!!!!
I met so many more wonderful people and I know I've neglected to mention so many that I met and I apologize for that! Everyone was so kind and easy to talk to and the shy butterfly in me really appreciates that!
Heather, Maria, and I went to lunch in the Gulch at one of my favorite restaurants, Bar Louie, where I totally met my soulmate. Hot, tattooed, ripped, likes to read? Oh yeahhhhh! LOL. Then, we went to the Parthenon and afterwards we ended with Jeni's ice cream. (Again!)
I am so nostalgic now writing this post because words can't even express how much fun I had this weekend! And I want you all to come back right now!
Finally here are the books I got this year:
Sophie & Carter by Chelsea Fine (Thank you Chelsea for this!)
It Was You (Abby & West #1) by Anna Cruise
It Was Me (Abby & West #2) by Anna Cruise
It Was Us (Abby & West #3) by Anna Cruise
All She Wants by Anna Cruise
The Darkest Part (Living Heartwood #1) by Trisha Wolfe (Thank you Trish for this!)
Moments of Julian by Keary Taylor
Wide Open (Wide Awake #2) by Shelly Crane
Afterburn, Aftershock by Sylvia Day
Veiled Shadows (Age of Alandria #2) by Morgan Wylie (Thank you Morgan for this!)
A Matter of Forever (Fate #4) by Heather Lyons (Thank you Heather for this!)
The Space Between (The Book of Phoenix #1) by Kristie Cook
The Space Beyond (The Book of Phoenix #2) by Kristie Cook
Angel Burn (Angel #1) by L.A. Weatherly (free in the UtopYA bag!)
The Ghost and the Graveyard (Knight Games #1) by Genevieve Jack (Thank you Genevieve for these!)
Kick the Candle (Knight Games #2) by Genevieve Jack
Queen of the Hill (Knight Games #3) by Genevieve Jack
River's Recruit (Sanctuary #1) by Charlotte Abel (Thank you Charlotte for these!)
River's Remorse (Sanctuary #2) by Charlotte Abel
Revelation (Revelation #1) by Randi Cooley Wilson (Thank you Randi for this!)
Stay tuned because I'm sure I will have some giveaways coming up soon! :)