Tuesday, 25 November 2014

#TimeWarpTuesday ~ #UtopYA2015 here we come

UtopYAcon the con that changes lives forever!

I had been following my online friends journey since the Con started three years ago and we had always talked about me getting my butt to the USA. Well finally 2014 was the year for me.
Was it everything I expected? 
absolutely not -  it was so much more!!

Months of preparation can prepare you for some things, but not everything. Here I was 18 hours later on a flight with family and all my book merchandise on a plane to Nashville. I thought arriving a day earlier would give me some time to rest - boy was I wrong. 
By noon the entrance was packed with all the bookly people I have only met online, it was crazy. I got pulled from one person to the next as we squeeeed and giggled and hugged the crap out of each other, then the jet lag set in, the room started to spin and the excitement made it worse. In comes Tiffany King.... I have 'known' Tiffany king for about three years online but meeting her in person was spectacular, of course I was scared at first, these authors are what I want to be when I grow up and Tiffany would not hear of it, in fact everyone I met and admired made me feel like part of the family. Tiffany was so great she offered us a room for my kids to change into their swimwear as she knew we had traveled almost and entire day to get there. Tiffany was also so kind and crazy to drag me along with her to introduce me to those she knew ran in our social circles. Then she invited me to the Thursday Night event...
I also got to meet Chelsea fine for the first time and from the first physical hug it was girl crush time! 

I got to meet one of my besties from the social world - Raine Thomas, Carol Kunz and hang out a bit more with Tiffany. The night was dedicated to the readers that show us authors the love. Quinn Loftis is the beautiful crazy that stood on the tables screaming and cheering on the crowds. Games and fun were held by all! 
Friday the official event start day! 
As expected I didnt sleep a wink, there were so many I still needed to meet and hug and kiss and go fangirl over,  and to be honest I still had doubts about how I would be received by the USA peeps. 

Friday was crazy amazing! Welcome packs stacked with precious goodies, Janet Wallace welcomed us all like the rock star she is, key note speaker Gennifer Albin brought us all to tears! Chelsea Fine and Morgan Wylie were amazing authors to meet and they were just as enthusiastic and nervous to meet me as I was to meet them. But soon we hang out like we had known each other our entire lives! Once the tables openened, OMG it was utter madness, this is one thing that I wish I had prepared for more! Within the first hour I cant tell you how packed my table was, I signed books, and I still think many of them I probably crab wrote!! I sold out within that first hour ! 
THANK YOU FOR THE LOVE. And if it were not for my table mate Becca Vincenza I would have spun way out of control. She stood ready to hand me books, swag and handled my money, not that I asked her, she was just that amazing! The highlights of course was meeting my street team members who I only get to chat with via social media, but to get to meet and greet those who stand by you everyday and help promote you - is a dream come true! 
Once in a while you get a chance to leave your table and the hunt is on for those you been dying to meet. Like Jo Michaels and Jennifer Laslie

Friday came and gone in the blink of an eye and I had not gotten to attend one panel session that day - my only regret! After all I was there to learn.

Friday night book signing event!!! 

My first ever international book signining event - say it with me - squeeeee!

Getting a chance to sign my books with these international superstars - I cannot put in words. I sat across from Raine Thomas and as always felt so at ease and on cloud nine in her presence. I got to meet my cover designer the awesome Regina Wamba, fellow authors Shelley Crane, Rachal Harris , Heather Hildenbrand and  Chelsea fine, Oh gosh the list goes one and on, and finally I get to meet more of my street team and thank them for all the support personally. 
Of course I had sold all my books out earlier so I felt a bit of a disappointment only have a set put out for display. 

This for me was a super fun day, I let myself relax a little and made my way around the exhibition halls to meet those I had yet to catch up with.  Oh and Ian Somerhalder decided to stop by to get in with the kick ass event. This day I truly came into my own and went on a rampage to meet everyone and anyone I could! 

Saturday I eventually got to attend two panel sessions, and let me tell you, I learned more in that one hour of panel session than I did in my two years of online research back home!


Saturday awards evening was so well put together and with each award acceptance speech, we cried! The after party was totally insane, as hard as the authors, bloggers and designers work throughout the year - that's how hard we party! Never in a million years would I have thought it possible I would be attending an awards event in the USA! The entire con was all about meeting, greeting and celebrating each other and it could not have gone down more perfectly! 


  • How has UtopYA changed you?  (OR how do you HOPE it will change you?)
  • Before I went to UtopYA2014 I was extremely nervous as I a nobody from South Africa with only as much as a profile pic people with witch my readers and author friends could identify with. Although I had been friendly with most of the authors, being there in the flesh put loads of pressure on me , to look and act my best (not myself). But the moment I arrived I was overwhelmed by how special and loved everyone made me feel! And I could truly be me and like me for who I am. It honestly felt like coming home to family. Not only have I disregarded any faults I thought I might have as a public figure – I am more myself than I have been in a very long time. From a business POV – its boosted my confidence to just go out there and do my thing!
  • What steps are you going to take to help you reach your goals?
  • read the full interview here:  on what my goals for next year's con is, what I would do differently and why UtopYAcon???
You can also read my interview with our local papers on what UtopYAcon meant to me  and has given me...

Who is the Con for? 
Readers, bloggers, publishers, Agents, media gurus , new and established writers as well as anyone who loves books and writing.

Do's and Dont's 

Do attend the panels 
Do not forget your pen and paper

Do buy a table
Do not sit it alone, get someone to sit in while you attend the panels, the panels are why you are there - to learn. In my personal experience I learned more in that one hour that I did 2 years of online research as an author.

Do make up swag! 
You do not have to pay a fortune.
Bookmarks are awesome and usable and the designs are without limits. It has your lovely cover, you can print novel lines, quotes, links and coupon codes for discount buys etc..

If you are traveling abroad:
Do no need to pack a hairdryer
Do not take shampoo and conditioner or body wash - more room for books and shoes!

Do ask for help
Do not think you are alone in this, every attendee is there to get to know each other, they are not your competitors they are your friends, they are what makes it worth while, they are who you need to do this - its takes and entire village to raise a brand/book/blog.

Do get the hang of selfies! 
Do wear the killer outfits! 
most of all 
this is an environment of love and passion and creation, this is where you will find your place. 
Do attend the key note speeches - it will change your life, inspire you and give you the ammunition you need to tackle that dream!
Do create a pre-order option for you readers.
Do stop by every single table
Do get to know everyone
Do take loads of pics
Do it

Do take advantage of the theme! 
This years theme was everything  alien!


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE you sweetie! You are one of my soul sisters and I am grateful you are in my life <3

    1. I feel the same, your kindness and spirit has stayed with me and I cannot wait to see you again!

  2. It was soooo awesome to meet you, Carlyle! How many times am I gonna be able to say: "I hugged the awesome Carlyle Labuschagne!" Huh? How many? Well, hopefully, at least two! ;) I can't wait to see you next year. WRITE ON!

  3. This is amazing. Thank you for sharing your experience. I adore you.