Wow. Really, just…wow.
That pretty much sums up the Utopia 2016 experience.
Before I get started on my recap, I’m going to gush to you all about just how wonderful the Utopia convention is. Sure, there are books. Yes, there are authors. Of course, there’s tons of free stuff. But the absolute best part of this convention? It’s like one big ball of love, energy, excitement, and unity. There are people from all walks crammed into one hotel with the single thread (among others, we discover along the way) of loving books in common. And it works. You’ll find inspiration, acceptance, and happiness during your time there and will walk away feeling lighter at heart…and heavier because of the book haul, but we’ll get to that later.
get your swag on
I’ll start with the swag. Because SWAG. Utopia is always great for a wide variety of unique swag, and this year was definitely no different. We had everything from bracelets and buttons, to disappearing ink and survival kits. There was even tea!
We even filled a bag up with swag for you! We’ll be giving this stuffed Blaze Publishing tote away to one lucky winner in an upcoming contest, so stay tuned.
all the books!
The exhibitor hall was packed with authors–more than any other year, from what I heard. The tables were mind blowing and gorgeous. So many books! We definitely saw a trend with purples and blues at Utopia this year, with authors even matching their tables.
You can see just a few of the tables here, including Fire Quill Press and Shawn McGuire. You might recognize Shawn from one of our very first BlazeLitChats discussing bullying. It was awesome getting to meet friends of Blaze like Shawn in person!
sit. stay. buy.
The Blaze Publishing table looked amazing, which I give all the props to Layla and Krystal for! They had the table set up before the rest of us arrived, which meant we could all stand around taking pictures of it and sighing with admiration. Love that logo!
Chelsea Starling, who designed our amazing website and logo, stopped by to say hello and get all the hugs from us (We love you, Chelsea!), and #FlatDean even paid the Blaze table a visit!
we took a #roadtripwithpeterpan and landed in nashville
We offered signed copies of THE CARVER by Jacob Devlin exclusively to Utopians the month before release, and it was a hit. As you can see, Jacob was happy to sign his first copy of THE CARVER, Ryan Hill was excited to read it, and everyone else was so thrilled to buy it that we SOLD OUT!
We also sold out of BECAUSE I LOVE YOU by Tori Rigby, and Krystal signed so many copies of ASLEEP that her hand must still be hurting! Blaze Publishing was on fire this week!
We can’t talk about Utopia2016 without giving a special thanks to our Blaze VIPs: Ryan Hill and Janelle Leonard. These two stuck by our side at Utopia and made the experience all the better for being there with us. Janelle shares the title of Coffee Goddess with Layla, and Ryan will henceforth be known as The Game Master of Blaze. Thank you, Janelle and Ryan, for everything you did for Blaze!
coming soon: so much blazelitchat
We want to give a special shout out to all of those who attended our special BlazeLitChat panels on Saturday. This was our first live IN PERSON endeavor for BLC, and you guys rocked it. The entire Band of Dystopia group talked to us about the Rise of the Dystopians, we had a great mix to discuss Crossing Genres, and our Judge a Book by It’s Cover game and discussion, while not without it’s hiccups (we will find a way to perfect this into a game!) was a lot of fun. We can’t wait to share all of the videos with you all over the coming months!
We weren’t all work and no play, though. Another great thing about Utopia is the sense of community. We were able to reunite with old friends, make new ones, and introduce Jacob and Audrey to everyone! Lots of shenanigans ensued at the Blaze game night on Thursday, featuring some heavy battles over Clue with gauntlets thrown and a tangled mess of Twister that had everyone laughing as we toppled over one by one. Friday night, we headed to The Mad Platter for our Blaze dinner. The bacon macaroni was to die for! We had some fun hanging out in our fearless leader’s room, and then a few of us broke off for karaoke. If you’ve never seen Ryan Hill perform “Bust a Move” or Layla Cox headbang, then you are definitely missing out! Jacob Devlin and I braved the stage for our own cheesed-up rendition of “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. There might be video…
Saturday night we all dressed up to wind down Utopia with the 2016 awards show. The pre-show mingling was filled with lots of selfies–sans the selfie sticks we all got in our swag bags this year, for some reason. After the awards, there was an epic dance party (thankfully, no video for that!) and then we all began saying our goodbyes. So sad!
We’re already counting down the days until next year’s Utopia, which is helping up get through the post-Utopia blues. Count down the days with us, and we’ll see you there!