– Jo Michaels
– Author, EIC – IBGW, and Reader
– Attended UtopYA in 2014 and will be there in 2015 as one of the Official utopYA2015 Bloggers
Before my bestie and fellow EIC, Tia Silverthorne Bach, told me about UtopYA, and asked me if it might be something I’d want to attend with her, I’d never heard of it. Of course, after looking over the particulars, I jumped right in with both feet. Never have I loved her more than in that moment! I was stoked to have found such a seemingly like-minded community of authors, readers, and lovers of all things books.
I waited, every iota of my being on edge, for the date to arrive. Not only was I going to what I hoped would be a super amazing conference, I was also going to meet Tia for the first time in person. That weekend arrived, and I left way too early, anticipation and excitement flowing through me.
All I can say about UtopYA is: Way freaking better than I could’ve ever imagined.
Everyone was so welcoming, friendly, and eager to share everything they know. I can’t even tell you how many tackle hugs and squees came my way.
That being said, UtopYA was also a humbling experience for me. I was in the presence of greatness, and felt it in my bones. Janet Wallace, Sylvia Day, Gennifer Albin… and too many Indies I admire to mention.
There’s this saying with UtopYAns: “Lift as you climb.” It’s the heart and soul of this conference, and you can feel it from day one. Aspiring authors were right there with wildly successful self-pubbers, and those with traditional contracts were mixed in alongside. You truly feel as though you’re part of something bigger than yourself—because you are.
UtopYA threw me right in there with the amazing, and I found myself in awe, wanting to do more, be more, and give more back to my writer community.
I decided that:
By next year, I’ll have Markaza – Book Six of the Mystic series – out and ready to roll, and I’ll have at least two other novels published. So far, one of them is on track to come out by Christmas (it’s UtopYA authors inspired, and I’ll tell you more in a moment), and I’ve also put aside time to write the rest of my novel titled M. **I’m on track with this goal.
Focus number two is all about helping others. Every December, I do a pitch party for buys and reviews of Indie books (we need reviews, after all), and I usually give away fan packages, my own books, and other random swag. Well, this year I’ve included a number of other authors in the fun. It’s the most well attended event on my blog (drawing thousands), and visibility is half the battle. **This endeavor is also on track to be met.
My fervent desire was to be on a panel, and I got the e-mail asking if I was interested a few months ago. I have so much knowledge to share with my fellow authors, and I wanted to do my part to make the conference great. **Goal=met.
I wanted to grow INDIE Books Gone Wild, and have expanded to encompass seven editors since UtopYA 2014. We’re all busier than one armed paper hangers! Our candidates were discussed while Tia and I were at the con. In 2015, we’re bringing one lucky editor from our team (to be determined) with us so she can feel the bookish goodness. **Again, paying it forward is one of my goals, and I’ve managed to own to this one, as well.
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect my little blog to become one of the official four for UtopYA 2015, but… yeah, that happened …it did. That announcement was crazy surprising, and it made me realize it’s something I was working toward from day one. Now, more authors have visited and (hopefully) realized it’s a place of learning, sharing, and book fun. I tried to supply them with a resource that gives back and encourages that lift as you climb mentality.
I’m being long-winded, but I have more!
I promised to come back to this. Here’s a little tidbit not many people know: The upcoming release Fractured Glass (Tia Silverthorne Bach, Casey L. Bond, Kelly Risser, and N. L. Greene are all my conspirators) was a product of UtopYA 2014. We met because of the con, and we sat at a table by the pool to brainstorm that bad boy. After we left, we wrote our little fingers off. What we ended up with is a novel unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. It comes out later this year, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s truly a novel anthology. Without UtopYA, I’m not sure it would’ve ever happened. At the very least, the con gave us the ability to get to know one another and set some details about the story in cement.
I’m doing an author interview series with folks planning to attend next year, because I want us all to know a little more about one another. I was scared to show up over there and only know one person! So, I figured, rather than friend everyone on Facebook and interact singly, I’d do in-depth interviews and put them out there for people to read. It worked! I recognized a ton of people when I got to the 2014 con. I’m hoping that trend continues in 2015. I daresay, these authors have, in a way, become my friends. Friends are something you can’t ever have too many of.
My roles at the con (author, editor, reader) didn’t have an impact. Everyone was lumped in there together, and it was awesome.
UtopYA lit a fire of community, drive, and desire to succeed under me. I’m positive it does the same for everyone else. I’ve never been a part of anything like it, and I’m so grateful to Tia every day for inviting me along for the ride.
Finally, I’d just like to wave to all the lovely people I met at the con. Know I’m looking forward to seeing every single one of you again next year. Let’s take over Maxwell’s and do lunch! *grin*
Yeah, I think I’m done now. Sorry I went off in so many directions! Thanks for having me on the blog, Maria and Ashley!
About the UtopYAn:
Jo Michaels is…
Hi, I’m Jo. Let’s forget all the “Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah” stuff and just go with it. I’m a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.
I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.
At the risk of sounding cliche, I’m going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I’m married to. Along with my children, he’s my whole world.
I’ve lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I’ve had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I’ve written about in Yassa.
One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I’d love to hear from you.
Connect with Jo:
Thank you so much for stopping by the Paisley Reader to read Jo’s resolutions for UtopYA2015! Next week, Isabella Rose Norton will be over on Book Junkie: Not-So-Anonymous sharing her resolutions and check back on the Paisley Reader the week after for PK Hrezo’s resolutions.
Missed any previous resolutions? Check them out!