the beginning of something new and beautiful.
2017 is going to be the last UTOPiA con.
For those who know me, UTOPiA con in Nashville TN has played an incredibly important part in my life. It would take me a whole novel's worth of words to truly explain the impact it has had.
In 2014, I finally quit the day job to pursue this creative life. One of the very first things I did was finally get my ticket to UTOPYA 2015 (as it was then) in Nashville. It was a crazy decision; I had just given up a secure salary and I was terrified of flying --- but I KNEW I had to go. I had to finally hug the people who had become such dear friends.
I had no idea what to expect; the indie author community was still emerging in the UK and I had never been to an author event. The first thing that happened when I walked into the Millennium Maxwell, is I was swept up in a literal tidal wave of hugs from Carol and Adam Kunz; that first two minutes set the tone of the conference. I have never been hugged so much in my whole lifetime.
Those three days went by in an incredible whirl of knowledge, love, acceptance, inspiration... and home. It isn't hyperbole to say that for the first time in my life, I truly and wholly felt like I had arrived home - a strange thing to say for an English girl who had never visited the US in her life.
I booked my ticket for the following year before I boarded the plane home, and 2016 was even more special because this time, I was going BACK home.
Janet Wallace is the founder of UTOPiA.Con, and I have the incredible privilege of being able to say, she is now a dear friend. Janet has influenced my journey in so many ways and I know we have many roads to travel together in the future. Exciting times are coming and I am so joyful and full of positivity for them... but in the meantime, I'm going to let myself grieve for the loss of something truly special; a space where my most favourite, most special, most loved friends gather and share and hug.
I want to say a heart felt thank you to Janet, her team and all those incredible authors who have become friends and sisters. I know that there have been friendships made for life, and I know that we shall see each other many more times, but at the moment, I am reflecting on the times we have shared together - and those memories will always be in my heart.
This news is even more deeply felt this year because as it stands, I am not able to attend the 2017 conference. I know this is going to mean I can't fully close on this episode of my life, and I know that it is going to cause a great deal of sadness in the coming months, but I am doing everything I can to ensure that UTOPiA and my tribe are fixed in a secure place in my heart.
So, Janet and my beautiful author friends, I raise a toast to the memories, to the laughter, the fun, the friendship, the love, the encouragement, the peace I found in your presence - and most of all, I raise a glass to future shared adventures. Know that I love you with a whole heart, and that there are going to be many tears shed over this for a little while to come.