June 1, 2020

UtopYACon2012: the Authors, the Awards, the Awesomeness

For those of you who don’t know, the first annual UtopYA Conference took place from July 6-8th this year in Nashville, TN. The conference was designed to honor the female writers of YA paranormal/fantasy fiction, and included informative panels, book signings and an awards ceremony. I had the pleasure of attending as an author and panel participant.

So, how did it all go?

In a word? Awesome.

Being the first of its kind, the conference was on the small and “personal” side rather than having thousands of attendees. As a result, I got to actually meet many of the authors I’d only interacted with online. Authors like Chelsea Fine, Angeline Kace, Heather Hildebrand, K.C. Neal, Quinn Loftis, Amy Bartol, Amanda Havard, L.M. Preston  and many others. Sitting on a panel beside Myra McEntire just about had me going fan-girl. I also got to spend more time with Tiffany King and C.A. Kunz, awesome authors who live here in the Orlando area. Much love, y’all!

Adding to the awesomeness were the readers, bloggers and PR reps who attended. I loved meeting every one of them! Heather with Supa Gurl Books, KP Simmon with Ink Slinger PR and Delphina from Delphina Reads Too Much are simply amazing individuals. Go meet them. Now.

I also won a couple of awards. In fact, I won the first ever UtopYA Award! It was for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novel (Becoming). I cried during my acceptance speech and was a hot mess for photos afterwards. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Here’s a pic of the award:

I also won an award for best trailer for Defy. The trailer was produced by Matt Landis of Flat-line Films. I made sure to mention Matt and his company several times in my acceptance speech (but I didn’t cry like an infant this time!). Here’s the pic of award #2:

Truly, I can’t say enough about the conference and the people who put it all together. Janet Wallace pioneered and developed the concept for the event, and she had the help of Jamie Anderson (whose book I hope is available soon!), April Robbins, and Susan Burdorf. This team of individuals helped make the conference feel like a family gathering of sorts. I’m sure there will be great things to come for UtopYACon 2013!

If you’d like to buy tickets for next year’s conference, you can do so here for just $30. They’re only selling 100 tickets at that price, so don’t miss out!

The best thing I’ve taken away from this event is a bevy of friendships. The writers and readers who attended generated such warmth and support, and I drove away feeling renewed and energized. Aside from that, I learned a few tips that I’d like to share:

1.  You don’t have to be on every social media site, but be sure you have a strong presence on those sites you do use.

2.  At any event where you might meet readers, PR reps and other authors, always come armed with swag and business cards.

3.  Amanda Havard is an amazing musician and singer. Also, authors should create playlists for their books and use them to creatively market their books.

4.  Blog tours are practically a must when releasing a book, but you don’t only have to do one on launch day. Consider tours for back-lists, too.

5.  I tend to snort when I cry and then try to talk. This is not attractive.

Okay, so that last one wasn’t very helpful to any of you. I’ll probably do a follow-up post that shares more of the tidbits I learned at this conference once I’ve had a chance to process it all. For now, happy reading and writing…I hope to see you at UtopYA 2013!


  1. L. M. Davis says:

    Love the pics of the awards next to your books! Such a pleasure to meet you and be on a panel with you. I am starting your book tonight.

    • Raine Thomas says:

      Thanks so much (for commenting and reading my book)! I really enjoyed meeting you. :) Thanks for sharing your insights with me and the other attendees. Look forward to next year!

  2. janet says:

    Your tips rock…almost as much as your spirit. Thank you for writing your books and sharing your gifts with us. It was a joy to meet you in person.

  3. Carlyle Labuschagne says:

    Wow Raine how gorgeous is that!!!!
    So thrilled for you – well done
    *crazy dance in the confetti*
    Love you babe
    Hard work pays off

    • Raine Thomas says:

      You’re so wonderful, Carlyle! Thanks, as always, for your awesome support and encouragement. :) I mean it when I say that we have to get you out there next year!

  4. Tammy Blackwell says:

    It was so great to meet you! And your acceptance speech was wonderfully. I may have teared up a little myself. (Okay, okay… I had to do a little mascara saving.)

    • Raine Thomas says:

      It was awesome meeting you, too, Tammy! Thanks for sacrificing your mascara a little for me. I hate crying alone. lol See you at the next one!

  5. Lyn says:

    OH MY GOD! *throws confetti around* This is so awesome and so well deserved because Becoming is simply amazing!!!! Congratulations! So very proud of you and all your continued success. Can’t wait for next year :D