On July 4th, 2012 we set out on a trip to Nashville, TN. Our destination: the 1St (yes the 1st) annual UtopYA convention. It’s a convention unlike any other because it’s geared toward both the female authors and fans of the ever-so-wonderful paranormal genre. Ready to embark on this adventure, we packed the Ford Edge to the brim with our stuff, and could barely fit in another author’s (Raine Thomas) things. We had known Raine prior to this excursion, but after the trip we all came to the agreement that our friendship was completely and utterly solidified! We had such a fun road trip even through the intense heat, crazy windstorms (almost tornado-like), and meeting some wonderfully “interesting” people along the way. We even stopped by Crossville, TN for an INCREDIBLY FUN author meet and greet at the local library. We met so many great people there including the two hosts for the event, Heather “SupaGurl” (an absolutely fabulous person and book blogger) and Margot (one of the sweetest women alive!).
When we first heard of the UtopYA convention back in December, we were told that it was an event for authors and fans of the paranormal to meet and learn from each other. We also found out that its focus was on female authors, and there was no mention of any male ones. Now, y’all know that we’re an author duo, and the reason why Carol (the mom) started writing was because of Adam (the son). How could Carol go to a convention without him? Well she couldn’t. So, she typed a little email to Janet Wallace, the WONDERFUL founder of UtopYa, and Jaime Anderson, her AMAZING ASSISTANT, and they both said Adam would be more than welcome. In fact they wanted us on to speak on two panels: one had us talking about the importance of book covers and the other was about how our group, THE PARANORMAL PLUMES SOCIETY, helps one another through the use of collaborative marketing, and how we assist each other through the many pitfalls of writing.
Once we arrived in Nashville, we met so many authors who we only knew online (through Twitter and Facebook), and the fun only escalated from there. Exhausted from our trip, we fell fast asleep that night in anticipation of the first day at our first convention. It was like waking up on Christmas morning the following day. We’re pretty sure we broke record time that morning getting ready because we were so excited for what the day would possibly bring.
When we think of UtopYa con, we must first talk about the Scarritt-Bennett Center where the convention was held. It literally looked like a building that was plucked straight out of one of the Harry Potter films, which was way cool! Next, as we entered the building, we were immediately greeted by Janet and her wonderful staff. We received an ENORMOUS hug from Jaime and just felt so loved and welcomed.
So, it’s no surprise that we sat at the LOUDEST table and were warned several times that we better behave. Even the keynote speaker, Myra McEntire, pointed at us and said she was worried about our table, hahaha! Well, did we behave? NO, of course not, but they loved us anyway! Speaking of the keynote speaker, Myra McEntire was so engaging, so funny, and so inspiring. Her dry subtle humor was worthy of a stand-up night at the comedy club, she was that funny. She even had a video to show us that several of her other author friends helped her make. It was a video of them all giving us encouragement as fellow authors to the theme of YOU CAN DO IT!!!! It was truly wonderful.
The next two days passed in a blur. A really AWESOME and fun blur though, hahaha! As we attended numerous informative panels and hung out with some TOTALLY AWESOME people, we found ourselves not wanting the convention to end. We won’t mention specific names of people since we know we’ll probably forget someone (and we don’t want to do that), but let us just say that it was an honor to be a part of such an EPIC weekend. And since it was the first annual, it will be remembered as a very special time for all who attended.
Oh, and there was also a wonderful awards ceremony that had all the flair of a big award show. There was the ever-so-lovely celebrity MC, Katie Cook, and a TRULY AWESOME author/singer/songwriter, Amanda Havard, who sang one of her original songs beautifully while playing the piano. Such a lovely night!
Annnnd let’s not forget about the morning raffle events with some incredible gifts from the authors, bloggers, and the convention itself. We could easily go on and on about how AMAZING this convention was. But guess what? There’s another one next year! Yes, that’s right folks! Mark your calendars for June, 28-30th 2013, and we look forward to seeing all of you there!
(Carol and Adam Kunz)
*If you're interested in UtopYa Con 2013 here's the link to buy tickets of your very own :D