What I Learned at UtopYA & the Book Cons

I went to my first UtopYA convention this June (now simply called Utopia Con) and it was quite an amazing experience. This year I signed up for a bunch of cons to sample them and see which ones I liked. I REALLY liked Utopia. Why?

From the first moments – even in the shuttle from the airport – I met very cool authors Diane J Reed and Courtney Farrell who I ended up hanging out with. Waiting in the winding registration line was fun too, because I got into a conversation with Diane about books, promo and all things author. Everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming, not always the case with cons. Special thanks to Nashville author Susan Burdorf for her warm welcome.

With Katie John
clockwise: Courtney Farrell, me,
Diane Reed, Laura Howard
My book table mate, Selene

With Doris from Dowie’s Place

I shared a book table with Selene Castrovilla, a classmate from my New School MFA Creative Writing days. I also made it my business to get to know people beforehand on the Facebook UtopYA site, which helped break the ice once I got there. It was cool to meet authors in person like Lisa Brown Roberts, Stephanie Pajonas, Natasha Hanova, Carlyle Labuschagne and Pk Hrezo, who I’ve done cross-promo with. Truly surreal to meet people I knew online. Major fun to meet Laura Howard and UK author, Katie John whose blog I actually found years ago. Finally, I am reading one of Katie’s Meadowsweet novels, Vengeance. It’s book two so now I need to go back and read book one. LOL. Meeting Bella Rocaforte was a treat as I love her Inked series. Oh, and I got to meet Angel Lawson who I’m in a boxed set with, launching June 29. It’s called Secret Worlds. We are stoked that it’s already on Amazon bestseller lists from pre-orders. Check it out!

With Bella Rocaforte 

With Tina Donnelly

I can’t forget meeting lovelies Tina Donnelly and Teri Barber who took a chance on my books, and new author, Kristen Bauer with her kids, also book lovers. Bloggers Doris Orman of Dowie’s Place and Ethan Gregory of One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads were fun to meet and chat with. Oh, and Amy Evans and EJ Wesley of NA Alley. The list goes on and on and on. For any Utopia-goers I didn’t mention, know you are ALL awesome and valued.

You see, Utopia is an inclusive con. About thirty of us convened on Thursday evening to go to a local restaurant, Monell’s. There was always an opportunity to join someone for lunch, dinner or a stroll around Nashville. Friday night Diane, Laura and I had an impromptu Tarot salon. I just bought a medieval cat deck! Meeow. I plan to bring my cards next year and have another one.

With Pk Hrezo

With Stephanie Pajonas

The Saturday public signing was a wild extravaganza with a loud, lively crowd. It was fascinating to go around and see how people decorated their tables and presented books, not to mention the incredible variety of swag from bracelets to raffle baskets to candy and divining cards! I thought Starla Huchson had the most creative display table design. Go, Starla!

One of my regrets was that my Sunday morning flight was so early I had to bail on the Saturday night awards event and the dance afterwards. Boo. Next year I will get a later flight!!!

Readers rule!

Eve Langell tackles Dorianna

Blogger rule too!

One hint that I truly loved the UtopYA experience is that I’ve already bought my ticket and booked the hotel for the 2016 Utopia con! And the buzz on the Utopia Con Facebook site is frenetic with sharing news, launches, blog sites and the like. It’s all about community. I can’t wait to say hi again to my friends, meet those who I didn’t get a chance to this year, and help make first timers as comfortable as I felt being a newbie. Utopia rocks!

Helpful con tips:
*If you have a book table for more than a day, make sure to take breaks to stretch, check out other peeps’ books, attend panels and the like.
*Share a table with someone who can handle hawking your books and vise versa. You can give each other much needed time away from the selling arena. Share a room too. Cheaper that way.
* Reach out, talk to someone you don’t know. Rinse and repeat. It’s a lot about making new friends!
* Get enough sleep and eat healthfully. Your energy can quickly become depleted otherwise.
*Don’t try to do everything. Pick a few panels and events. There’s always next time.
* Practice your sales pitch beforehand. Be able to describe your books in two lines each! People need to hear the info quickly because they’re browsing lots of tables. Make your pitch exciting. Get to the emotional core. Make it memorable and they will return.
*Decorate your table in a fun way that isn’t too cluttered. Arrange books to be easily seen. Offer unique swag no one else has. Not just bookmarks! Offer up a raffle basket or other element.
*Dress comfortably and remember that con ballrooms are air-conditioned and get cold.
*Be friendly to all. No playing favorites!
*Don’t be afraid to go out for a meal with strangers. Strangers quickly become new friends.
*Have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!

great summer reads of all kinds!!!

Here is another one of my recommended summer reading lists with all manner of genres and subjects!

Christine Rains is back with Layers of Lace, the second installment of her hilarious and hot erotic Dice and Debauchery series. I read her first, Loose Corset and can’t wait to dig into this one. The blurb:
Amateur cosplayer Emily Solis is determined to win the costume contest and the heart of her biggest competition. It isn’t the first time Emily has shed her costume with the gorgeous Russell Morrison. Not even her best friend knows she’s been having wild convention sex with him for over a year. It was supposed to remain physical, but Emily couldn’t help falling for him and his kinky ways. In a moment of passion, she rolls the dice and tells Russell she loves him. He doesn’t say it back. Can she convince him they’re perfect together or will she roll another critical failure?
Pre-order or buy the ebook at Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, B&N, Kobo, or add it to your GR TBR list!

M Pax is here with Precipice, book 6 in her popular Backworlds space opera series. I’ve read two of them. Both were highly entertaining. Craze is quite the character, and there are many inventive touches in each book. The blurb:
In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendants to survive in a harsh universe. This is the sixth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.
      The Backworlds hang by a Quantum string, a thread about to snap. Annihilation is coming if Craze can’t stop it.
      The genocidal alien he’d trapped breaks free, destroying a ship belonging to the Backworlds’ oldest enemy, the Fo’wo’s. The murderous alien wants to overtake the galaxy. The Fo’wo’s want another war.
      The Backworlds’ best chance to survive is to overcome a century of hate and forge an alliance with the Fo’wo’s. Because of his history with the alien, Craze is recruited to represent his people. Now he’s the most hated man in the galaxy. The looming war will be a holocaust unless Craze can stop it, knowing salvation comes at a price.
Ready for a mini-excerpt? Sure, you are!
    Until he knew for certain whether he dealt with one genocidal alien or two, Lepsi couldn’t think right. His thoughts refused to stand still, stuttering and churning.
    The hatch slid fully open. He sprang off the cargo ejector, sailing two kilometers into the ether. He tumbled in the black for precisely twenty-three seconds then engaged his thrusters to journey the remaining twenty kilometers over to a spacecraft-sized mass of debris. The bits clumped together forming a weird metallic planetoid.

    He traced along the char marks and the mangled pieces of hull. The answers he needed wouldn’t be found in this trash, yet he was closer to them here than anywhere else, unless he joined up with the horrid alien again. His limbs shuddered and his lungs struggled for breath. He never wanted to see the cloud-like ship again. He couldn’t. He’d crack into a billion unrecoverable pieces. Just like the rubble of the Fo’wo ship around him.
Buy the ebook at Amazon, B&N, iBook, Googleplay, Smashie, Kobo

And now for a cover reveal from veteran indie author, Casey Bond, heading to UtopYA in a couple of weeks, where I will get to meet her. Yay! This new cover is Reclaimed from her Harvest Saga series. Isn’t it pretty?! No exact release date yet but soon… In the meantime get started on the series now for FREE by ordering REAP, the first! To see all of Casey’s ebooks, click here. The blurb for REAP:
The remnants of the United States of America have been divided. From five enormous, technologically-advanced cities, the Greaters rule over the Lessers. 


In the Lesser village of Orchard, things are not as perfect as Abby Kelley thinks they are. When the apple harvest draws near and the Greater’s engineered fruits become too much for one village to handle alone, reinforcements from
neighboring villages are called upon. 

Having to choose between her best friend, whom she has no romantic feelings for, and mysterious newcomer Crew, Abby finds herself in the middle of a harvest that she had no intention of becoming a part of. She becomes involved in a situation that threatens the strict rule of the Greaters, and just might give the Lessers hope for a better tomorrow. But, can she help the Lessers without losing Crew? And if she chooses Crew, will she lose her best friend? 

 And here’s one more amazing release! It’s Secret Worlds, with 21 novels by 21 bestselling authors for a mere 99 cents!!! I am honored to have a novel in it – Ruby’s Fire. Here are some provocative teasers featuring the various authors and their books:


“‘Humans in the house!’ came the call from the kitchen as we entered the first trailer. ‘Put on some clothes.'” – from Shiftless by Aimee Easterling


“You’re probably better off without knowing your dad. Mine’s King Jackass.” – from the Pandora Principle by Noree Cosper


“Someone saw you get high. Do you?” he asks. “No, Oblivion is for deleting.”   – from Ruby’s Fire by Catherine Stine


“Another spell gone kaput.” from Changeling by Debbie Herbert


“You don’t get rid of an itch by ignoring it. There’s only one way to settle it down. You scratch it, good and hard.” – from Spark Rising by Kate Corcino


“Being human sucked much more than I remembered. The only thing that remained the same was the burn of a shot of whiskey and the way Naomi felt when we made love.” – from Trinity Rising by J.E. Taylor


“My mom died during an exorcism on my eighteenth birthday.” – from The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton


“I spread out like a shadow on pavement under the feet of the unsuspecting woman working her corner in the seven-hundred block of South Orange Blossom Trail. Her name is Jane, and I will be wearing her by morning.” – from Purgatory by Susan Stec


Pre-order secret Worlds! from Amazon, B&N, Kobo
Happy summer reading, all!

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?

My Fave Vacation Spot! Plus a vacay blogfest. What’s yours?

 I’m taking part in this weekend’s “My Favorite Summer Vacation Spot” blogfest. So, I tell you what mine is. My yearly writing retreat in Cape Cod! By the way, you don’t have to be an official blogfest participant to comment, so comment away, and tell us yours.
This Blog Hop is sponsored by Summer Reads that Thrill & Chill.
For the Linky List and Book Giveaways visit the 6 Co-Hosts go to: Lexa Cain, Melanie Karsak, T.F. Walsh, Vanessa Morgan, Jolie Du Pre & Stuart R. West.

Now, to the subject at hand… Why do I like this place so much? I’m vacationing, yet mingling with friends; I’m getting LOTS of writing done and talking about writing. Most of my novels were started here. I get to swim in the ocean, be surrounded by pines and waterways, lounge on a rose-covered porch in my PJs, and every night someone cooks a great dinner, followed by fun writers’ games. Here are some pictures that tell the story over the years.

My writing station near a pal
path to the inlet
morning coffee
writing ladies

porch roses

Emily’s homecooked meal
me lounging on the porch
Emily, the evening’s chef
One of my writing stations

Tell us all, what’s one of your fave vacation spots?