The Panels of UtopYA Con 2014

The first one I went to was Expand Your Universe: A How-to Workshop for Newbies & Introverts #ExpandYourClump. Out of everyone in the room, guess who gets singled out? Yeah. Me. I’m terrified of people, y’all, but it’s cool. Lol! They offered some helpful tips on things to say when you meet an author you like besides the typical: smile, nod, and tell them you like their book. Which is exactly what I did with the first author of a book I’d already read. Lol! They offered things like: What are you working on now? Where are you from? Is this your first time here? Things like that. I really, really wish I’d ask someone that first question! You know writers, we like to talk about what we’re working on. ^_^

Next up (and my personal favorite!) Quantum Query (#Quantum Query) moderated by the awesome, awesome C.J. Redwine! I really felt the urge to fangirl, but alas, my anxiety keeps me in check. Lol! I’m going to do a full run down of this in my next post because I have a lot to say! About the workshop and about the Query book, and after I’ve combed through it, I’m going to (maybe) post my query for you to gawk at (ha,ha), but if you’re interested, you can find the book HERE. She also teaches Query Workshops, and you can find more information by following the link. A quick summary of the panel though: GET HELP WITH YOUR QUERY people, this is serious. Lol! Ask someone unfamiliar with your book to read it and tell you 1) what your story is about and 2) do they want to read more. The biggest mistakes she says people make is that their query is too boring, too long, has too much infomation about the plot, and the bio is too long. C.J. said her bio was one sentence long. It just said that she’s a member of RWA and was a 2008 Golden Heart Finalist. ^_^

Next I went to Damsel in Distress VS. Bad A** Babe. This wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was super fun. They talked about preferences and if one was better or worse than the other. Shockingly (insert sarcasm here), the consensus was: It depends on the story, but a balance is always good. I took that to mean that if you have a Bad Ass, showing her vulnerable moments will help people relate to her and keep her from being unrealistic and inhuman. On the flip side, having your door mat show some gumption once or twice will help door mats reading the story feel empowered, like they can be a bad ass sometimes, too.

The last for the first day was Music as Muse. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I’m pretty sure the moderator went off on a few bunny trails, but what I took from it was that, if you’re also a musician, there’s no reason why you can have some kind integration of the the two. Two of the authors on the panel both had companion soundtracks to their books! One was bundling it with her book because she was self-published, and the other was selling it separately as she has a publisher, but she said she hoped to integrate the two into an audiobook one day. The moderator has some kind of ebook app that allows you to play story inspired music within the app. Right now the technology is really new (and expensive if you’re not writing the music yourself – not to mention you’ll probably also need an entertainment lawyer), but there are ways to fuse the mediums together, and this is something I didn’t know. Also, apparently Spotify has this thing called “discover” that is really good for finding music that fits certain moods. I’m going to have to check this out!

On Day Two I started off with the awesome keynote by Gennifer Albin who was originally scheduled for Friday when I couldn’t make it. Lucky me her flight was delayed! (Though I’m sure it was super unfun for her.) She talked about the importance of making sure we take the time to write. Even if you have kids. Even if there are piles of laundry. Because unfulfillment is seriously a recipe for depression.

The first panel I chose this day was Blog Your Face Off (which I missed half of because I was talking to some authors and then waiting to take a picture with Gennifer), but they offered some tips on reviewing books. No spoilers, obviously. Keep the excerpts short because no one has time to read an entire chapter. Little teaser character interviews can be fun. Mix personal questions in with the traditional ones when doing author interviews. People like pictures. Lol! Also, make the giveaways easy, like keep Rafflecopter short, for example. We all know they can get pretty long. Lol!

Next was the worst panel of the entire trip (for me), POV: Breaking All the Rules. They got off to a decent start, offering suggestions for books that have different POVs from omniscient third to alternating first, and the fact that teens really don’t notice or care if the book if in past or present tense, but then things quickly spiraled. They were either patting themselves on the back or going off on a tangent. They didn’t really explore the topic, nor do I feel like they approached it with an open mind. It all just felt really off topic. That or it was just for people who have no idea what POV is. The panelists were kind of stiff, too, so it didn’t even have the benefit of being fun like Music as Muse. But I guess there’s always one disappointing one.

After lunch I went to Judging A Book By Its Cover. This was really interesting information for people who self-publish or have a whole lot of say in their cover art. They told people to make sure they worked with reputable designers, and one of the ways you can tell is that a good designer will make sure they get the paperwork for the stock image, if you’re using a stock image and not going with a custom design, because there are limitations on how you can use them, alter them, etc. It costs anywhere from $150 for a basic cover to $5000 if you want to wax all fancy and fly the designer to Fiji for a custom photoshoot. (Seriously.)

The last panel for Saturday was Radlits: the Craziest Word Game in the Universe, where they took the panelist’s stories and replaced words and phrases MadLibs-style. It was HILARIOUS. And on one of them we even did a horror theme! Makes me want to grab one of my MadLibs books. ^_^

12 Responses to The Panels of UtopYA Con 2014

  1. This sounds like so much fun! I’ve never been to an event like this, though the UK’s finally getting its first YA lit con this month and I’m so excited to go! These panels sound really interesting. ^^

  2. What a great conference! I’m looking forward to your Query expansion, and thanks a ton for sharing what you learned. See, this is why the blogosphere is invaluable.

Hi! ^_^