Thursday, 4 August 2016

UTOPiA 2016: Review

So this is a little late in being written but it's because it takes me a while to decompress after UTOPiA. The Convention which is held in Nashville Tennessee (USA) and which is founded by Janet Wallace, holds a very special place in my heart.

Last year was the first time I had been to a convention, and the first time I had been to the States. It is not a cliche or over statement to say that my trip to UTOPiA (or UTOPYA) as it was then was life changing.


Seriously. If I was to tell you how much, and in all the various ways it changed my life, I would have to take up several hours of your time, but know this -- I went to UTOPYA as one person and came back different. It was a moment of metamorphosis. I can never thank my beautiful UTOPYA tribe enough for filling me from tip-to-toe with love, encouragement, inspiration, and confidence. 4 days with those folks is like super-charging the battery to the point you could literally fire yourself off into space.

So this year I returned, knowing that like all good things you experience, it's dangerous ground to go back and try and relive it - and it was different; I was no longer embarking on some scary, thrilling new adventure, I was going home.


Four little letters, and a meaning as great as the universe. That's how it felt when I walked through the doors of the Millennium Maxwell. I spent the first few days hugging and laughing, and generally being beyond excited to see people who have become more than friends, but family - a sisterhood. UTOPiA gets me, and I love it fiercely.

With Susan Burdorf, Author
This year, I wanted to give back to the UTOPiA community, and headed up an anthology with some truly talented UTOPiAns, called 'Revolution.' Working together on something that meant so much to us all, allowed me the great privilege of really getting to know authors I didn't particularly know so well before hand, and beautiful friendships grew from that project. A massive thanks to Christina Benjamin, Caroline A Gill, Kelly Risser, Jessie Campbell, Raye Wagner, Tricia Zoeller, Nooce Miller and Kelly Risser.

Profits from the sale of the anthology are going to Carlyle Labuschagne's charity 'Help Build A Library In South Africa.' (Links are at end of this post)

This year I exhibited again, and it was bonkers to see how my stand had grown since only a year before. It was a symbol of the journey I've taken - and this time, I remembered to take the Cadbury's chocolate.

I was up for nomination for a UTOPiA award for two of my titles, 'When Sorrows Come' and 'Beautiful Freaks' - I can't express in words, how much that meant to me, but if you were here with me now, I would demonstrate it through interpretative dance. (Just think Kate Bush and you'd be somewhere in the right ballpark)

I was also beyond privileged to chair a panel on formatting - now, I tell you, those guys knew what they were talking about, and we, as a team, demonstrated that not only is formatting the  coolest element of book making, but that it is also extremely important. It was an absolute pleasure to chair and felt like another step in my journey.

There are so many precious moments, from last minute swag making with my beautiful friend Carlyle Labuschagne and her publisher Erika (nice to meet you, BTW!), to being on the Karaoke support team with the wonderful Ashley Bodette, to hugging the amazingly beautiful Carol Kunz, to midnight sorority parties with Chelsea Fine and S.M Boyce, two women who I admire beyond measure and who one day I aspire to be, to meeting up with my beautiful friend Patti Larsen, who inspires me to write more, although I'll never catch up with her gazillion books, to hanging with the legend that is Janet Wallace, to having the table best table buddy ever, KD Wood, to the late night PJ font party with Jo Michaels, to sushi with the beautiful Christina Benjamin, to Tequila contests with my buddies Chelsea Stirling and Christina Mercer, to treasured moments with my dear friend Susan Burdorf, and to sharing soul with Stacie Wilson. oh, my goodness I could go on and on... and there are so many amazing souls and dear friends who I also shared such special moments with - you know who you are.

These moments fill me up for the rest of the year. They make me feel like I belong to something wonderful, positive, creative and world-changing. Being in the presence of so many kind and loving people who want to lift as they climb is something that is literally priceless.

So, now it's time for a little spate of the post-Utopia blues, but what makes that manageable is the fact that I had already purchased my ticket for 2017 back in March and my flight tickets are already booked.

With my lovely friend, the author of 'Our Song' Ashley Bodette 

Awards Night with Chelsea Stirling and Christina Mercer

With my beautiful and ridiculously talented friend Christina Benjamin (Author of the Geneva Chronicles) 

With Chelsea Stirling <3 nbsp="" td="">

With the incredible Patti Larsen. My Superhero. This woman is a writing machine. 

With the founder of UTOPiA, Janet Wallace. An inspiration and  honoured to be able to call friend. 

With the awesome Tina Donelly and author, and table buddy, and friend for life KD WOOD

Revolution Anthology links: You can get your copy in either Paperback or eBook from the following links



  1. Love you so, beautiful lady!! Can't wait to see you at Chapter Con next year, and again at UTOPiAcon!! Hard to believe I've only seen you in person twice in my life, you feel like a dear friend I've had forever, and I'll be so lucky when one day you are exactly that! Congrats on your momentum, your books, your anthology and your drive to forge ahead!! xoxoxo

  2. Love to you Chelsea <3 there's a special room in my heart for you and you live there <3

  3. I feel the same about you, and cannot wait to see you again - TWICE next year! I get to see you two times in the same year... kisses until then