Last year, on day one of UTOPiAcon, this guy walks up and says “May I have the mic for a minute?” I have no idea who he is, but Ashley, my event assistant, gave an excited nod, which was all I needed to hand over the stage.
He walks up on stage and begins sharing his love story…a love story that ended with him on one knee proposing to Maria Pease right there on the UTOPiAcon stage.
I can hardly put into words how honored we were to be a part of Rob and Maria’s story. To know that we will forever be a part of one of their most sacred moments and memories is staggering.
Maria has been an official UTOPiAcon blogger for years. Her Paisley Reader blog was one of duo that launched the UTOPiAcon Resolutions series. You see, a lot of the attending authors clocked their yearly goals not by the Julian calendar, but by the year between each UTOPiAcon. “By next UTOPiA, I will have accomplished ______________” became a series that blew my mind and launched anthologies, collaborations, goals for debut authors, and much more. It’s one of those things that left me speechless, and will forever stay in my heart. It was one of those things that set apart this community — their drive, purpose, love for each other was a thread that stretched around the world tying them all together….they just happened to tie the knot in Nashville, Tennessee each June.
And speaking of tying the knot — Maria Pease and Robert Rosera will do that very thing in April of this year. And, at #UTOPiA2017 this June, they are hosting The Paisley Reception on Saturday night, June 24th. We are so honored to celebrate with the couple, and have gifted them a suite at The Nashville Airport Marriott!!!
I asked Maria some questions about herself, her life, her passions, and here are her responses. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as I have.
Tell me a little about yourself.
My official bio will tell you that I like old things, cats, and ice cream. I also love books and reading and really anything to do with the bookish world. You may know me as the Paisley Reader and Editor. I also write when I can and will have a novella out by the time of UTOPiA. Come visit me at my table. I’m afraid of no one stopping to say hello. Beyond that novella I have another WIP that sits at 50k words and a new idea that was recently inspired by a pre-made cover and its accompanying blurb. That one, in addition to the other books in my novella series, is my next project.
My day job is far out of the realm of books (minus finding fellow book people wherever I am so I can geek out about things), and I work at a cultural resource management firm as either an archaeology lab assistant or as an assistant architectural historian depending on where I’m needed.
I live with my fiance Rob in Warwick, Rhode Island; we’re getting married in April. We have two cats, Aaron and Jordy, who get into everything and love trying to help me work.
UTOPiAcon: How long have you been blogging?
Maria Pease: I have been blogging since June 2013, so almost four years.
Why the Paisley Reader?
I didn’t start out with that name. I began as Reading the Alphabet because I had too many books on my Kindle and I decided to start with the letter A and work my way through the alphabet one book at a time. Unfortunately, many people associated it with being a blog that featured children’s books, and I knew it was time to rebrand. Paisley is, unsurprisingly, my favorite pattern because of the colors, whimsy and movement — the way it can be feathers or flowers or raindrops, and I just started sketching a design one day that had a paisley petal with a book inside it. I ran with it and haven’t looked back.
I recently celebrated my two-year anniversary in editing.
How did you transition into editing?
Editing came about after a period of beta reading for authors I had gotten to know through my blog and at UTOPiA. After receiving great feedback from them, I began considering editing as a new avenue for me to take. I had edited term papers as a work-study position in college and really enjoyed it then, so I was happy to turn those skills toward fiction.
What do you edit?
All sorts of things! My editing runs the gamut of YA through Adult in a range of genres. I’ve done magical realism, paranormal, horror, contemporary, contemporary romance, and more.
What type of editing do you do?
I do everything from developmental/content edits, to line edits, to proofreading.
How has UTOPiAcon helped you along your path?
I would not be where I am today without UTOPiA. I didn’t start beta reading until I met authors at UTOPiA. I met my first client briefly on the last morning of my first conference. It was still months before I began editing. She came to me for editing through word of mouth of one of the authors I had beta read a short story for. Nearly every single one of my clients I have either met at UTOPiA or was referred to me by someone I met at the conference.
How did you first hear about UTOPiAcon?
The first weekend of my blog’s existence, I joined Twitter and began following authors of books I had on my Kindle. So many of them were talking about this thing called utopYA, so I looked it up and immediately knew it was something I had to go to the following year.
How long have you been coming to UTOPiAcon?
I first attended UTOPiAcon in 2014, so this will be my fourth year attending.
What are you most looking forward to about UTOPiA2017?
There are so many ways I could answer this question. First, I’m always looking forward to seeing my people, my tribe, my ohana. UTOPiA brings together amazing people who truly care about one another, and it’s awesome getting together with all of them to celebrate our love of books and writing and editing and the list could go on.
Second, I bought a table for myself for Saturday. It’s the first time I’ll be promoting myself as an author, and I’m really excited. I’ll only have one book out, a novella, but it’s been a goal of mine to have a table since first attending the conference and I’m thrilled to be achieving that this year.
Third, I’m looking forward to seeing Rob experience his second year at UTOPiA. Last year was understandably a bit overwhelming I think. I don’t know if we’ll be able to top last year’s engagement, but we have some things up our sleeve to celebrate with everyone.
This was such a magical moment, and I think anyone could understand my saying that this was the highlight of last year’s con for me. It was the perfect proposal. Having met Rob two days before flying to my first utopYA, then flying out the day after our first anniversary for my second utopYA, I was thrilled when he said he’d join me for my third trip to UTOPiA. We purchased his ticket right after utopYA2015 ended, so it was something we both looked forward to all year. I love that it happened in a place that means so much to me in front of people who have become a big extended family for me.
I can’t say I was fully surprised that it happened right there and then. After the keynote speech, I had stood up and turned around, trying to see who else I needed to tackle hug before everyone left the room. I turned back around to spot Rob whispering to Ashley Bodette, who I had been sitting next to and was helping out at the con. Then he started following her. I knew then that it was happening, so I had basically a minute to prepare myself.
Funnily enough, I had almost joked with him that morning as we were getting ready to leave for the airport about having a ring on him. When I ran through the Have your wallet, have your toothbrush, etc., I almost asked if he had the ring. I’m glad I didn’t. My mom is also glad I didn’t as she had found out the week before that he was planning to ask, and she didn’t want him thinking she had spilled the beans. It was just a feeling I had, knowing that it was coming soon, just not knowing exactly when.
I later learned that he had had the ring in his wallet since getting off the airplane and taking it out of his carryon. That definitely explained why he was so insistent that he keep his carryon after the airline asked for volunteers to check their carryons. I had no idea he had it in his wallet, but I find it funny that I kept making him take out his wallet to pay for things in cash since he had been holding onto the cash. Apparently he was nervous that I had seen it or would see it.
Thanks, Maria, for everything!!! We wish you and Rob the very best in your new path together!