Like a Virgin… HEY! #UtopYA2014 for the Very First Time

utopYA Program

I’ve been staring at a blank page for quite some time now, trying to sort out my feelings about this event. So many amazing things happened at UtopYA I don’t even know where to begin, so forgive me if my recap is less than eloquent. I’m not going to attempt to list the names of every person I met because I’m certain I’ll forget far too many, but I hope you all know how much you mean to me, and that my love and friendship are yours forever. I’ve learned so much, grown as a person, and feel more confident as a writer. There is no more magical experience than attending UtopYA.

No, I’m not crying again. Ok, maybe I am.

Let’s back up a bit, though, shall we? From the moment I knew I was going to UtopYA until the time I actually left for the airport, I considered backing out at least a dozen times. You can ask my husband. I drove him nuts with my wavering. Why? Because I was terrified of the unknown. I had no idea what to expect at UtopYA, even with all the testimonials about how wonderful it is. Well let me tell you something — wonderful doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. I could easily write a novella about everything that happened, but I’ll try to give you the short(ish) version here. 😉

All trips destined for greatness must start with Starbucks!

starbucks

Then a scary plane ride is in order; scary only because I hadn’t flown in eight years. Obviously I made it there just fine.

plane

When I walked into the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel I was completely blown away. Not only was the hotel beautiful, but the amount of awesome authors, bloggers, readers, photographers, cover designers, etc. was remarkable. This is just the first few minutes of early registration. Incredible, right?

registration

And here are just a few of my favorite peeps in the lobby the first day

mylovelies

That first night I had dinner with Sylvia Day, Janet Wallace and a small group of other awesome people. Yes, I am one lucky duck! And yes, that dessert was scrumdiliumcious. There’s chocolate mousse inside of that beautiful package!

vip dinner dessert

By the end of the first night (and the conference hadn’t even started yet!) I was buzzing with joy and I wasn’t even close to being tired. I sat around the pool chatting with folks until around one o’clock in the morning. The following morning something miraculous happened — my alarm went off at 6am and I didn’t even hit snooze! I was back in the lobby, ready to get the party started by 7am. Yes, I showered first. I spent part of the day walking around meeting all of the awesome folks I’d been chatting with online for so long. Everyone was filled with smiles, laughter and major tackle hugs! I didn’t feel like I had made the trip to Nashville alone. I was home.

utopya-collage

There were panels to attend both Friday and Saturday, which were full of invaluable information for everyone. The crowds were a perfect blend of authors, bloggers, readers and more. There were three panels for each time slot, but everyone seemed to take notes and we’ve all been sharing with each other. I love this community!

panels

There was never a dull moment at UtopYA. Friday night we had costume karaoke! I wish I had taken more pictures of this awesomeness, but it seems I had a cosmic cocktail in my hands most of the time. LOL

costume-karaoke
pinkladies

Saturday evening was the awards ceremony and after party. What a whirlwind! I didn’t even care that my plane was leaving early Sunday morning.. I managed on VERY LITTLE sleep. I was happy to be able to spend so much time with people I adore and respect. It was an honor. One that I will never forget. These memories are burned in my mind forever.

utopya-awardsandparty

The Keynote Speakers, Sylvia Day and Gennifer Albin, were so inspirational. I left that conference room each morning feeling confident, like I really have a shot at this whole writing gig. 😉 I wish I had pictures, but I was too mesmerized by their words to think about it.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t get more pictures with more people. Unfortunately the camera on my phone wasn’t working, and it was no easy task taking selfies with my tablet. It was a two person endeavor and I’m sorry, but ain’t nobody got time for that!

I have been crying off and on since my return from Nashville, and they are both happy and sad tears. Happy that I was fortunate enough to be at such an amazing event with all of these fabulous people, and sad because I seriously miss them all hardcore! They became family to me in only four days. I can’t wait until #utopYA2015!! If you don’t already know, the theme for next year is Time Travel! #WriteYourOwnFuture Woot! I certainly wish I could hop in a time machine and be there right now. If you want to get your early bird tickets, click on the image below. DO NOT MISS OUT on this event. Even if you’re nervous about going alone, like I was. I promise that you will not feel alone. You will have THE BEST time of your life! For more awesome stories and pictures, follow #utopYA2014 on Facebook and Twitter. That’ll keep you busy for at least a week. 😉

utopya2015 logo

~Giveaway~

I have loads of really awesome stuff to give away for all the folks that didn’t get to make it to UtopYA this year. The grand prize, which I will give away here on the blog, is my Official UtopYA 2014 t-shirt which I had signed by all the authors. No, I didn’t wear it. I saved it for one lucky My Book Addiction reader! I also have swag to give away, but I will be doing flash giveaways on My Book Addiction’s Facebook page. If you’re not already following me, you might want to get on that soon. Ha!

Pictured below is the signed t-shirt and the huge bag full o’ swag.

I want to thank you all so much for visiting this blog and being such huge participants and supporters. You are so unbelievably awesome. I can’t express in words how much you all mean to me.

utopya-giveaway

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Jesus-following wife, homeschooling mom of two girls, author of post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy, and paranormal stories, fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, yarn obsessed crafter, baker of all the sweets, lover of culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.