UtopYA 2014 Recap

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UtopYa is a book convention held in Nashville that focuses on women writers of YA and NA.It has a wide range of panels, authors, and events…and even a few cover models.

Overall UtopYA was a really mixed bag of reactions for me. Things like this are my personal nightmare. I don’t like crowd, I despite social interaction with people, and walking around alone while dealing with both makes me feel on the verge of an anxiety attack at all times. One the other hand I did learn a few things and met some awesome people, and I think if I’d been better prepared then this would have been an absolute success. But it was a lot of fun, even with the freak outs, and I do plan on going back next year!

In an effort to keep this short I’ll do a pros and con list, and the put some of the few photos I took up.

Pros

  • There are a ton of authors and their books – There is a mix of indie and traditional published authors around and it would be impossible for a bookworm to walk in and leave with nothing.
  • Informative panels – I only made it to one panel out of like 18, but I did gain some awesome insight on street teams and what I represent as a publicity.But there are panels for everything like: writing, editing, legal info,etc.
  • Most people are super friendly – Nearly everyone I met there was incredibly kind and supportive of each other.
  • Plenty to do – You can go to panels, hang out with authors at their booths, get  books/swag signed, buy books (of course), sing karaoke, dance the night away, etc.
  • Write In – The last day of the convention is used for the Write In, which is basically just a room full of authors (aspiring and published) writing as much as they can. They do word-sprints and giveaways as well.
  • “Free” Fan Signing day – This is a signing event open to anyone. The price this year was $5 or a donated children’s book. Some authors only show up for this signing event as opposed to renting a booth space.
  • Friendly Staff – All of the hotel staff that I talked to were extremely pleasant  (except or the two guys arguing over where I table should go)
  • Convienice – There is a shuttle that goes into the actual city of Nashville, along with a Starbuck and three fast food restaurants directly next to the hotel.

Cons

  • Nashville is boring – The city Nashville is where you want to go for country music and bar hopping…both of which do not interest me in the slightest.
  • Not a Solo Venture – I’m not a social person…and I loathe being anywhere unfamiliar without someone else to help keep me calm. I did see people I knew, but it wasn’t until the last day that I actually had people to talk to. A lot of my time was spent walking around in the same areas until I became bored and went to my room.
  • Not for people who browse quickly – Seriously, take your time. If you’re like me then you can probably go into the supermarket and be out (with a full buggy) in less than an hour…so just slow down, because one you see all of the authors you’re interested in and go to the panels you want to actually have something to do.
  • The Hotel – Okay so the millenium hotel is nice but I had two HUGE issues. 1, the internet was so poor that I ended up not using it at all. 2, they apparently have bedbugs…and thankfully I didn’t bring them home with me. (Buy bed bug bags just in case!)

Tips

So you want to go to UtopYA next year?

  • Bring comfy shoes! You’ll be on your feet a good portion of the day so bring shoes you don’t mind standing in.
  • Breathable clothing. Nashville is hot and with people coming and going from the hotel (not to mention the large crowds of people) it gets pretty warm in the hotel. So bring some tank tops, shorts, skirts, dresses…whatever, because you’re going to sweat if you dont.
  • Splurge on that outfit. So you’ve just seen that the theme of the year is Aliens, and now you really want to wear a Galaxy dress to the award ceremony…do it. No it’s not a necessity but at the same time it’s your one chance to glam it up and show off your style…why not go all out? Hell you can even go in costume if you wanted to.
  • Be courteous! If you see that any author on has a few pieces of swag left…don’t hoard them all. Don’t cut in lines, insult, push, get an attitude or be deliberately rude to other people.
  • Make a brag book or bring something to sign. So it’s a good idea to bring a brag book (scrapbook) for signatures. There is no way you can afford to buy all of the books there, so bring something for them to all sign makes it easier on you and you won’t have to search there everything to find something.
  • Bed Bug Bags – Even if this problem is taken care of before next year (and it probably will be) buy some bed bug bags for your luggage. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

Awesome People You Need to Know

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Me and Melissa Pearl

  • Heather Hildenbrand, author of Dirty Blood and A Risk Worth Taking (2nd to the left)

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Julia Crane, Heather Hildenbrand, Melissa Pearl, Brina COurtney, and Quinn Loftis

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7 Responses to UtopYA 2014 Recap

  1. Bed bugs! Seriously – ahhhh I would have freaked the hell out if I heard that.

  2. Thanks for mentioning me. I wish we would have had time to sit down and talk! Oh, and 2014 recap, not 2015. Unless you’ve already time traveled to the 2015 con. 😉

    I heard that someone had said something about bed bugs, but I’m not sure that was confirmed. Was it?

    • Lol, Oops! I totally typed this post up at like 3am so I was out of it. And yeah, I woke up with bug bites on my arm and neck the day I left. I found out after someone else mentioned it in the group on facebook that someone else had issues with it.

  3. lab1990 says:

    That’s great you had a good time overall. I’m with you on feeling awkward in crowds and being around a lot of people I don’t know. that’s a bummer you didn’t have a buddy!

    Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

  4. Christy says:

    Even though you have issues with these type of social things, I so glad you went! I’m especially glad you left the bed bugs there. 😉

  5. Looks like you had a lot of fun Michelle, it would have been great going to a convention for books and YA.

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