Author Erin Hayes at UtopYAWow. Since coming back from UtopYA, I’ve been trying to figure out how to best describe what had happened and how much it impacted me. I learned so much. I met so many great people. And I was so sad to leave it.
I guess the best way is to sit down and type it out.
A fellow author and UtopYAn summed up the event better than I ever could have in a Publishers Weekly article: UtopYA has heart. After traveling up to Nashville for my first convention as an author, I couldn’t agree more.
I showed up at the hotel Thursday afternoon with my books in tow, not really knowing what to expect. This would be my first table at my first event, so my nerves were pretty high. Everyone seemed to know someone else as they greeted and hugged, probably veterans of the past two UtopYAs. So I collected my badge, went upstairs to my room, and freaked out about the next day.
I was nervous.
The next morning, I went downstairs and quietly set up my table in Area 51.5. I partially wanted to fade into the walls, to avoid talking to people since I’m shy.
But then I starting meeting some people and everything change.
I sat next to the awesome Liz Long and we were able to chat in between talking to con-goers. And boy, were there con-goers. I’ve been to other conventions where the exhibition halls were voids of people avoiding booths. This was totally different. I got to meet so many great people, many of whom where people I’d only spoken to online. You can bet there were hugs and pictures and exchanging of emails.
That night was the Fan Invasion, where I sat next to the lovely Teal Havilland and Andrea Heltsley. They were great tablemates and we had a great time.
The next day was for panels and for shopping. I went to Gennifer Albin’s keynote and cried several times during it. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience. I was so inspired to do what I love, and I got her to sign a copy of Crewel for me.
After that, it was off to the panels, where I filled out an entire notebook with tips and tricks for writers, readers, and bloggers. I sat there wide-eyed the entire time with how deep the rabbit-hole goes for all of these things. I learned so many new things, and even the panelists learned new things from the audience. It was a collaborative effort that everyone benefitted from. I think that’s the underlying theme of UtopYA – collaboration.
I got to walk around the exhibits and meet everyone that I missed the day before. I bought some books – too many books. It was good that we had driven to the convention, because I left with far more than I came with!
The UtopYA Awards were held that night, and it was great to get dressed up and get a little funky. I was inspired by the nominees and winners and had a great time. It was a great celebration of the event. Then came the dancing, but I had to retire to bed early because I was so tired and I had bad knees. Not a good combination in high heels and dancing.
The next morning was an open mic for people to speak up about their experiences. I didn’t speak, and I wish I had. I listened to authors and readers and bloggers who had felt the same thing I did at UtopYA. We were all changed for the better, and we were going to leave the convention wiser and more prepared for the road ahead. I was in tears by the end of it because it was beautiful.
And then we had to leave and go back to reality armed with the knowledge I’d acquired over 72 hours.
I’ve already booked my tickets for next year and I plan on having another table. I have my new set of goals written down so that I can strive to be the author I want to be by next year. And I made some new friends.
Thank you for being awesome, UtopYA. I’ll see you next year, along with everyone I met, including Lori, Lindsay, Toni, Felicia, Liz, Teal, Andrea, Anne, Bella, Eva, Quinn, Brina, Alissa, Caitlin, Janet, my husband Chris who I dragged along to it and more (I’m sorry if I missed anyone, there were so many great people!). You guys were great. I’m so glad we shared it together.
PS – My phone was on the fritz and kept running out of batteries, so I didn’t take anywhere near as many pictures as I would have liked and I didn’t tweet the event as much as I would have liked.
To learn more about Erin Hayes Here at her website!
We held a giveaway for Erin Hayes on June 16th-30th 1 of 3 e-books of Death is but a Dream and the winners are: