Our Acquisitions Editor’s Experience at UtopYA.

MY UTOPYA EXPERIENCE: Sandra Salinas

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As we near the upcoming start date of UtopYA Con 2015, Clean Teen Publishing will be sharing a series of blog posts from our authors and team about their experiences at UtopYA and more. Here is an interesting view point of how UtopYA 2014 changed Sandra Salinas’s life:

Sandra “Sandy” Salinas | CTP’S Booking Bibliophile

I attended UtopYA in 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. I didn’t have an author table with books, nor was I one of the many book bloggers roaming the aisles. I had no intention of becoming an author. I was simply a reader. And I was in book hog heaven.

How I came to be there actually started several years before when I saw a post by then indie author Samantha Young about a conference for authors who wrote YA and paranormal books that was meeting for the first time in Nashville. I thought, how cool is that? Even so, I couldn’t justify going myself, when I had to attend my own work related conferences for professional continuing education credits. So suffice it to say, I stuck my head into a book or kindle to satisfy my need to read and used social media to feed my curiosity of the writing process. What I found was a community of people with one commonality, we were all readers.

I wanted to share my love of reading. I began a book club at my work. It wasn’t a traditional club, as I work in a hospital and employees work all kinds of hours making meetings very difficult to arrange. So we opted for a monthly newsletter and book news, including social media, author signings and book events. I scoured social media for news to share. I found that authors were very approachable, enthusiastic, funny, and sometimes quirky. Who’d have thunk it?

I found out about street teams. Wow, authors inviting readers to be part of their team, to have cover reveals before anyone else, to read book snippets, chat with each other, and share good news. I joined the Rachel Harris Flirt Squad and heard that she was going to be at the third annual UtopYA event. Oh, how can I get to UtopYA? A family vaca with a side trip? Maybe it’s doable.

Then last year I clicked on a book written by co-authors Sherry Ficklin and Tyler H. Jolley. What happens when you love an author’s writing? You look for what else they have written and one click the heck out of them. My poor kindle, it is so heavy with virtual books. I loved the covers, I loved the writing.

I became an author stalker of Sherry Ficklin. I read Losing Logan, and loved it. Her social media posts cracked me up. I joined her street team and became a minion. She was going to be at UtopYA. Oh, now I so had to make it happen.

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Do you remember the scene in the Greek Wedding, how the wife tells her daughter that the father is the head, but the wife is the neck and turns toward what she wants him to do? It takes a little sweetness. “Dad, your daughter wants to go to this author event in Tennessee. You know how she loves to write. And we haven’t been to Nashville before, so wouldn’t it be nice to go this summer? We could drive there and pick up our other son in Georgia, make it a family trip. Wouldn’t this be nice? Sweetie? Honey?”

Mission accomplished, we were in Nashville soon after. My daughter, daughter-in-law and I huddled and giggled and wandered the hallways looking at books, picking up awesome swag and awkwardly saying hello to authors I met first on social media. Of course I made my way to the Clean Teen Publishing table as Sherry Ficklin posted that she was going to do a cover reveal of her new release Queen of Someday. While waiting, I chatted with the ladies at the table, picked out a few more books, waited while Sherry signed my book, and read the brochures. Yes, I read everything!

I started to chat with the ladies behind the table. I asked Dyan what her goals were for this young publishing company. She said she wanted to be competition with the big 5. My opinion has always been if you don’t think big, you won’t be big. I bought some books, reviewed the rating system, chatted some more. They gave me a super reader sticker. And they asked if I wanted to join their CTP beta reader Facebook group. Whoop!

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So I entered UtopYA 2014 as a reader, and came home as so much more. From beta reading to becoming part of the CTP’s team reading submissions and offering my thoughts on the stories I read. UtopYA is a part of my life story now.

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