2017 Schedule

We are trying something new this year with the schedule. Instead of scheduling three things in the same time slot each hour, on Friday of the con this year, we have made an effort to stagger the start times of every single event. There is still a lot going on, and, at times, you may have to choose; however, we have reduced the number of events happening simultaneously to better serve you.

One of the glorious benefits of our new hotel, is that everything is located on the same floor and right next to each other. It will cut down on traffic and travel time between panels, speakers, and other awesome stuff happening throughout the convention area.

Lunch on Friday is also a little different this year. Titanium pass holders have lunch scheduled at 1 PM. However, there is no break in the event schedule during lunch. We felt that by letting everyone go to lunch at their own pace, we wouldn’t overwhelm the restaurant. You can grab lunch when you want and get back to the action when the mood strikes.

******* Schedule will be updated regularly and is subject to change.*******

3 PM Early Registration/Badge Pick-up Hermitage
4-6 PM

MASTER CLASS: Revising, A Step-by-Step Method with CJ Redwine **

{this Master Class is an additional fee. Register at http://utopia2017.eventbrite.com. Space is limited}

How do you take your manuscript from rough draft to polished and publication-ready?
New York Times bestselling author of THE SHADOW QUEEN, C.J. Redwine will teach writers:

  • to target pacing
  • character development
  • about how to create conflict arcs
  • the power of prose

…and more in an organized, methodical approach that will make even the most challenging revisions absolutely doable to help you set your work apart from the pack.


So You Wanna Run Off and Join the CircusMODERATED by Mindy Ruiz PANELISTS: Misty Provencher, Tia Bach, Casey Bond

You’ve decided to join this amazing circus that is writing, publishing, conventions and signings filled with beautiful freaks and wild ideas. If this is your first convention or signing, this could be the most important 60 minutes of your weekend! After registration, scouting out the bag of goodies you got and the initial shock and awe, you’re going to have questions about how to meet people, how to make the most of the con, and how to make it all worth the time, money and energy you are putting into it.

Join us for an hour that answers where to go, how best to fangirl without the threat of a restraining order, and why we celebrate embracing your inner peculiar. Extrovert or introvert, socially awkward or socialite, here is where you get your questions answered, meet other first timers and become part of a special group like no other during your time at UTOPiAcon.

Capitol Ballroom
8PM Welcome Mixer with cash bar Capitol Ballroom

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017
7:30AM Info/Registration Booth Opens – Pick up your badge Hermitage
8:30 #UTOPiA2017 Official Begins!! Ringmaster Introduction

Main Stage

(Salons D+E)

9 AM  OPENING KEYNOTE: AMY HARMON NY Times bestselling author to shares her experiences and thoughts on how to be authentic in the stories we tell. Main Stage
10 Signing + Exhibitor Hall Opens Cumberland Ballroom
10 B&N Bookstore Opens Salon F

MASTER CLASS: Save the Cat!® with Jose Silero

{this Master Class is an additional fee. Register at http://utopia2017.eventbrite.com. Space is limited}

Ever since Blake Snyder’s crowd-pleasing presentation at a writing conference in 2008, authors have used his Save the Cat!® story structure method to create engaging stories, compelling character arcs, and captivating novels.

Blake’s 15 “beats” (or plot points) are the key elements that give your story a strong “spine” and create a transformative journey for your protagonist. The beats can be used to turn a new story idea into a complete outline, fix broken plotlines, and more.

Since Blake’s passing in 2009, his Development Director, Jose Silerio, has continued to teach the Save the Cat! Beat Sheet method to screenwriters and novelists around the world.


PANEL: The Hybrid Author: Which Publishing Arm is Right for You? Moderator: Katie M. John, owner of Little Bird Publishing House | Panelists: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Kelly St. Clare, Shannon Mayer, Elise Kova

Whether you are considering self-publishing your book, going the traditional publishing route, or hoping for a hybrid life that incorporates both options, there are a whole new world of options available to you these days, digital and otherwise.

This panel will have people from all branches of the publishing tree sharing the questions you need to ask yourself and others, and how to be as prepared as possible for the path you choose. This is a panel for open and supportive discussion, not touting one path over another. Bring an open mind and your notebook.

 Salon A
10:30 THE DEDICATION: A Conversation with Vilma Gonzales Main Stage
10:30 READING ROOM: Michele G. Miller/Mindy Hayes read from CHASING CARS AND THE LESSONS WE LEARNED Salon C
10:45 READING ROOM: Liz Long reads from DONOVAN CIRCUS Salon C
11 AM READING ROOM: Abbi Glines reads Salon C

PANEL: LASSO AN AGENT Moderated by NY Times bestselling author, C.J Redwine

PANELISTS: Author Jadah McCoy; Lauren MacLeod, Agent with The Strothman Agency; Author Courtney C. Stevens

You’ve researched or experienced the pros and cons of each publishing path, and have decided that having an agent on your side is right for you and your future.

  • What should be in the Query letter?
  • What truly grabs an agent’s eye or heart above and beyond genre demands?
  • How do agents work with authors to help them define and achieve their goals?
  • What are the Realistic expectations authors should have of agents, and what should agents expect from authors in return?
  • What are all the ways agents work to expand your empire?

Find out in this session aimed at helping you find your perfect agent match.

Salon B


Led by Dan Wood, Director of Operations and Author Relations at D2D

As a writer, you want to write. So when it comes to publishing, you could use a little support. Draft2Digital makes it easy. It’s time to uncomplicate formatting and the entire self-publishing process. D2D will share how you can save time getting your book from finished manuscript to published and distributed and in the hands of your fans.

Learn smarter self publishing, and discover the tools on how to do it.

Keep writing. Keep your rights. D2D will help with the rest.

Salon A
11:15 READING ROOM: Tish Thawer reads from The Witches of BlackBrook Salon C
11:30 READING ROOM: Katie M. John reads Salon C
11:45 THE DEDICATION: A Conversation with Abbi Glines Main Stage
12 READING ROOM: Bryna Butler reads from OF SUN AND MOON, #1 Midnight Guardian series; Beth Crowley performs “The Dark” based on the series  Salon C

PANEL: SOCIAL GIANTS: the Rise of Bookstagammers, Booktubers and Bloggers

Moderated by: Vilma Gonzalez @_vilmagonzalez | Panelists: Reagen from ReagenReads, Summer Webb from ButterMyBooks, Benita from BookBeau, Justine Brooks of The Bookish Box

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the influencers behind these leading Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube book-focused accounts are right on target. These passionate book fans are the tastemakers of the publishing world, bringing fiction to life via gorgeous photos, enthusiastic videos and creative #hashtags.

But how do they do it? What really goes into taking the perfect picture? How do they build their networks?

If you are an author hoping to get featured by these influencers or an aspiring social media giant yourself, don’t miss this panel. These rock stars will take you behind the scenes of the amazing perks AND the pressure to post post post.

 Salon B
12:30 READING ROOM: CJ Redwine reads Salon C

PANEL: THE ELECTRIC AUTHOR: Wattpad Reveals the Shocking Secrets to SuccessPresented by Caitlin O’Hanlon, Senior Talent Manager

PANELISTS: Alys Arden, Monica Sanz, Ali Novak

Wattpad is an entertainment platform that connects the world to millions of original stories. In a crowded and growing marketplace, Wattpad gives storytellers access to a monthly audience of 45 million people, approximately 90% of which are readers.

The ability for both self-published and traditionally published authors to share serialized stories for free, as well as interact directly with a highly engaged audience has made Wattpad a major force in the publishing industry and created a demand for Wattpad Stars and bestselling authors, such as Alys Arden, Anna Todd, and Beth Reekles (to name just a few).

Whether you are an unknown, unpublished author, or a regular bestseller like RL Stine or Christopher Pike, Wattpad can help your stories reach new eyes, give you unparalleled access to a highly-interactive audience, and introduce you to new and powerful ways to leverage and market your work.

Don’t miss this incredible panel hosted by Wattpad and Wattpad Stars to discover the power of community-based storytelling.

Salon A
1 READING ROOM: Lichelle Slater reads from STEP RIGHT UP Salon C
1 PM Titanium (VIP) LUNCH Salon G
1:30 READING ROOM: Kelly St. Clare reads Salon C
2 READING ROOM: Ella James reads Salon C
2 PM

PANEL: WALKING THE TIGHTROPE FROM TWEEN TO TEEN: The Role of MG & YA Book in Building Character Moderated by NY Times bestselling author, Chanda Hahn

PANELISTS: K.E. Ganshert, PK Hrezo, AJ Culey, Ben Hale

How big a role do middle grade and young adult books play in helping kids navigate the awkward-to-awesome years?

From “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” to “Harry Potter,” books can help youth feel less alone by reflecting who they are or who they want to be.

What makes a book Middle Grade or Young Adult? What topics are too taboo for these categories, if any? How is literature evolving in these categories? What trends are we seeing? How can MG and YA books do more to support parents, educators, and young readers themselves during this vital time of self-discovery?

Salon B
2:15 READING ROOM: Cambria Hebert reads Salon C
2:30 READING ROOM: Amy Harmon reads from THE BIRD AND THE SWORD Salon C
2:30 PANEL: Marketing Circus | Moderator: Raye Wagner | Panelists: Kiki Chatfield of Next Step PR, Alicia Rades, Ren Reidy, Kelly Martin

  • how to stand out
  • what works, what doesn’t
  • how soon should you start?
  • what should be on your marketing checklist
  • are blog tours dead?
  • how can you give your release longer legs?
  • what about back catalog?
  • top tips
Salon A
2:45 READING ROOM: Rysa Walker reads from The Delphi Resistance Salon C
3 PM READING ROOM: Alys Arden reads The Romeo Catchers Salon C
3 PM

Talk with Daniel Errico

Bestselling author of children’s stories “The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived” and “Rosaline,” both of which are now Hulu original animations.

Main Stage

PANEL: THE FORTUNE TELLER Presented by Christina Mercer, author of Bean Counting for Authors

Can you write off on your taxes your travel to conferences and signings? What about swag? Your home internet service, home office or mobile phone bill? What about the book printing itself, or banners?

How do you manage all the costs associated with birthing your book into the world – the editing, the formatting, the printing, the marketing/advertising?

For those who truly want to make a living as an author, it’s imperative to be money wise.

This session will demystify the money side of your biz. It will show you how to keep track and manage your money, create and live on a budget, and reveal how to report it to Uncle Sam without losing an arm and a leg.

Salon B
3:30 READING ROOM: Nely Cab reads from MARKER OF HOPE Salon C
4 PM FEATURED SPEAKER: Jasinda Wilder Main Stage
4:15 READING ROOM: Isaac Marion reads from THE BURNING WORLD Salon C

PANEL: The Amazing YOUdini Moderator: Amy Donnelly, Alchemy and Words

PANELISTS: Chelsea Starling of Indie-Visible/Starling magic/MUAH; Peggy Martinez of Lit-Cube; Benita Botello of Book Beau

Every single person has something about him or herself that sets them apart. Maybe that thing made your teen years hell. Maybe that thing is what set you on your chosen path. Maybe that thing is something you still hide for fear of what others might think.

Maybe that thing is just the thing the world needs. Maybe…just maybe…that thing is YOUR thing, and it makes the world less boring. Maybe it can make you stronger. It already makes you unique.

This panel is being led by rock stars who aren’t afraid to let their weird show. They will share how the thing that made them feel different is THE thing that they needed to accept and love.

Find out how to embrace your awkward…your awesome. It’s time to raise your freak flag.

Salon A
4:45 READING ROOM: Andrew Shaffer Reads Salon C
5 PM

PANEL: THE BRAND FREAK Presented by Regina Wamba, award-winning book cover designer and photgrapher of Mae I Design


  • There are approximately 400,000 books released each year…and that’s just in the U.S.
  • You have less than 6 seconds to attract and keep the attention of a passing eye.
  • The right book cover can triple the sales of your book
  • Giving your old book series a makeover can increase your passive monthly sales of that series
  • The cover is your book’s first chance to make a lasting impression

In addition to images, typography and design elements not only of your book covers (does the spine really matter?), but also teasers, your web site, your timeline cover images and thumbnails needs to be consistently ON BRAND and INSPIRING.

In this session, you will get in the hotseat with Regina Wamba, who has designed book covers for oodles of New York Times and USA Today best sellers. You will learn why genres tend to have the same types of cover design trends, the crucial elements you must have, the stuff you need to not ever do, and a lucky few will get hands-on help during the session!!!

Salon B
5:00 READING ROOM: Jack Wilder reads Salon C
5:15 READING ROOM: Elise Kova reads from THE ALCHEMISTS OF LOOM Salon C
5:30 READING ROOM: Chanda Hahn reads Salon C

PANEL: Sentence Tamers and Ringmasters of Grammar Moderator: Maria Pease Rosera, the Paisley Editor

PANELISTS: Bridgette O’Hare, Krystal Wade, and Tia Bach

This is the panel for all those who want to get face time with a panel of editors to find out why you need an editor, when you should send something to an editor, the different types of editing, and more.

Salon A
5:45 READING ROOM: Shannon Mayer reads FURY OF A PHOENIX Salon C
6 PM Signing + Exhibitor Hall Closes for the day
6 PM #WilderWay Party — Join Jasinda and Jack, authors of Big Girls Do It Running and Big Girls Do It Stronger for fun, swag, and treats! Salon G
7 PM THE DEDICATION: A Conversation with Isaac Marion Main Stage
8 PM FILM SCREENING: WARM BODIES with Isaac Marion live commentary Main Stage
10 PM Game Night Convention Area Foyer

8:00AM Info/Merch Booth Opens
8:30 Morning Announcements Main Stage
9 AM

KEYNOTE COUCH: Janet Wallace, founder of UTOPiAcon, is joined on stage by bestselling authors where they discuss the state of the industry, the triumphs, the struggles, having a good support system, things to know, hopes for the future, etc.

Jennifer L. Armentrout, Ella James, CJ Redwine, Andrew Shaffer

Main Stage
11 AM Signing + Exhibitor Hall Opens Cumberland Ballroom
1 PM  LUNCH (Cumberland Ballroom closed during lunch)
2 PM Signing + Exhibitor Hall Re-opens Cumberland Ballroom
4 PM Signing + Exhibitor Hall Closes
6 PM Pre-Awards Happy Hour + Paisley Reception Convention Foyer Area
7:30 Titanium (VIP), Nominees seating begins for Sixth Annual UTOPiA Awards Cumberland Ballroom
8 PM General Seating begins for Sixth Annual UTOPiA Awards Cumberland Ballroom
8:30 The Sixth Annual UTOPiA Awards Begins with special performance by Beth Crowley Cumberland Ballroom
10 PM  FREAKSHOW BALL Cumberland Ballroom

SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2017
9 AM Info/Merch Booth Opens
9:30 AM UTOPiAcon Closing Ceremonies – Giveaways, Prizes, Farewell Main Stage
12 PM  Good-bye

******* Schedule is subject to change.*******