This week UtopYA Con is on like Donkey Kong, and I’m excited to see old friends and make new ones! There are some great panels I’m looking forward to attending, including two that I’ll be moderating. I’m giving away book swag on Friday, and signing Descent and Defend on Saturday. Plus, the UtopYA Con Awards Ceremony will be held Saturday evening. It’s going to be one jam-packed, fun-filled week!

Here are some tips on how to glean information that is most helpful to you at UtopYA…

fear-is-a-liar1 1. Leave your fear at the front door.

Sounds corny, but for realz, kick all the ‘I’m not good enough’s and ‘What was I thinking’s to the curb. Walk into UtopYA knowing that we’ve all been there, and we’ve all done that. I still have days when I can’t fathom being where I’m at in my writing, but it’s because of events like UtopYA that I’ve gained the confidence to put my work out there (and myself).

2. Be ready to take notes.

You (and I) are going to hear from some hardcore, hardworking authors and it’s imperative that we not take that for granted. Write down what they say, even jot down follow up questions and ask them during the Q&A portion of the panels. If you can’t get your answers at the panel, hunt down the panelists at their tables and ask them. This is a great time to get some clarity, and hopefully it will shed light on your journey.

Afraid-of-Networking3. Make friends with the people around you.

Remember that the people around you are attending UtopYA for similar reasons. Whether it’s to learn how to get started on their first book or get more followers on Twitter, these are your people. Introduce yourself and make a new friend, because this week is only be what you make of it. I promise, if you put effort into it, you will reap the rewards. We all just want to feel loved at the end of the day, so share some of that love and shake a hand and smile at the people around you.

4. Visit authors in the exhibitor space and sign up for as many giveaways as possible. (You’re bound to win one, right?!)

Not only will you discover a plethora of novels you’ll want to read, but you’ll drool over displays, nab beautiful bookmarks, and cross your fingers that you win that super-duper awesome gift basket. If you have a break during the day, go visit the authors and talk books. I love discussing the last book I read or the first book series I read with curious readers. I also adore talking self-publishing and blogging, and I know there are several other authors that share my passion for this industry. So, come down and sign up to win something at my table Friday, but expect to make a friend and get a book recommendation, too.

Here’s where I’ll be during the week, along with a link to reserve your signed copies of Descent and Defend below…

Thursday: Noon (Grand Ballroom West)

So You Wanna be a Writer? You have a book in your heart, characters chatting in your head and a desire so deep to finally write that book you’ve been dreaming about. So what’s holding you back? Time to step out of the shadows and into the world of writing. Whether it’s just something you want to cross off your bucket list or what you want to do for the rest of your life, getting a book into the hands of the public has never been easier. This session will talk you through the realities of the writer’s life so that you can lead your dreams.

Friday: Noon (Grand Ballroom West)

“What the heck is a Beta Reader and why do I need one…or five?”A beta reader, also known as a pre-reader or critiquer, is a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context. Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterization or believability; in fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking. This session will help you give you tips on finding and keeping quality beta readers you can trust with your work.


Friday: Exhibitor at PF4 (Promenade)

I have a half-table dedicated to giving away some book swag on Friday. There will also be a sign-up to enter for your chance to win a bag-o-books and goodies!

Saturday: ARMI Public Author Signing Event

This event will benefit Book ‘Em, a non-profit organization dedicated to the collection and distribution of books to children and teens in lower-income families. The signing will be FREE to anyone who brings a new or gently used children’s book for donation. It will be only $5 at the door to those who do not bring a book. All admission fees and books go to Book ‘Em.

Times: 11 am-1pm and 2 pm-4 pm

Location: Grand Ballroom of Millennium Maxwell House Hotel, 2025 Rosa L Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37228

*Paperbacks of Descent and Defend will be available to purchase. They are $10 each. If you pre-order both of them you will receive a discount. See details for pre-order on this page of my blog.