UtopYA 2015 Wrap-Up

S. J. Pajonas June 22, 2015
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I'm back from #UtopYA2015 and I had THE BEST time!

I’m home from UtopYA (cue sad tears) and now it’s time to get back to work. But not before I post about this amazing event. I’m so glad I went. I’ll be honest. Thursday morning when I left to get on the plane to Nashville, I was hella nervous. I was wondering if all the planning and the expense would be worth it or not. Because going to conventions, even though we can write them off, are still a huge undertaking for both authors and the planners of the event. I was worried I wouldn’t meet anybody or learn anything…

Boy was I wrong. I walked in the door to the hotel and I ran into someone I knew right away, my buddy Jade Eby. I’m sad I don’t have a photo of her, but I was so stunned after the plane ride that I didn’t take out my camera for a selfie. (On another note, I used another person’s selfie stick at the con and fell in love. My selfie stick should be here today. I thought they were silly, but I am converted now.)

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Thank goodness my first interaction was so wonderful because it set the tone for the next 4 days. Mostly I spent time with my usual online crew: L. K. Lewis, E. J. Wesley, P. K. Hrezo, and Amy Evans (and Casey L. Bond to a lesser extent because she was signing a ton of books). These are all people I talk to all the time online, but it was the first time we met in person. And it was awesome knowing that we were already fantastic friends before we met in real life, and now we’re even closer. (I’m getting choked up writing this… excuse me for a moment.)

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Okay. Besides seeing my friends in the flesh I also met so many new people I hope to call my friends for the future and beyond. They’re too numerous to name here, and I’m sure I’d forget names so hopefully you all know who you are!

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The actual UtopYA Convention (its name is changing next year, more on that in a bit) was fabulous. I attended some really great panels on Is Time Travel Possible?, Writing Serials, a pep talk by Liz Long “Your Time To Shine,” Gender Roles and Stereotypes, and several keynotes. I wish I could have gone to more panels! I learned a lot and hope to apply what I’ve learned to my next year of writing and publishing.

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I'm #knitting before the #UtopYA2015 keynote! #365days #ig2015 #dailyphoto

And I got to meet Marissa Meyer (love her books!) and get a book signed.

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We also got the chance to eat out, order great food, and drink lots of good wine, beer, and booze.

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Then it was time for signings and booths. It was so fun to see all of my friends meeting new readers and having a great time.

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The awards ceremony was the highlight of the event, even though I was starving through the whole thing. I promise to eat dinner next year beforehand.

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Especially seeing our dear friend Casey win the award for best serial! She was so damned cute up there!

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So the news about next year’s event is that it’s changing. UtopYA will now be Utopia Conference and will include more genres and age groups, most notably Middle Grade, and Adult Contemporary and Speculative Fiction. Janet, the organizer of the event, also mentioned that they’re going to concentrate on the whole person as a writer. There will not only be workshops on writing, publishing and self-publishing, but the event will include information on life coaching, goal setting, health and fitness. Basically, we’ll learn how to take care of our WHOLEselves instead of just the writer brain.

I’m super excited about this change! I’m definitely buying my ticket (and a half table for signing!) for next year and I’m encouraging you all to check it out too. It was one of the best events I have ever been to.

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Thank you, UtopYA! And I can’t wait to see what Utopia 2016 will bring!


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