July 31, 2015

Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) : Mindy Ruiz

Time for another interview with a UtopYA Lovely. Please welcome, Mindy Ruiz. I met her at the Nashville airport. Together, we began to melt waiting for the hotel shuttle. As California girls, we weren’t holding up too well in the humidity. Still, her welcoming spirit drew me in, and I immediately felt like I’d known her for years.

Thanks so much for hanging out on my blog today.

MR: Ohmigoodness, thank you for having me! And thanks for having the air conditioner kickin’! hee-hee. I swear I lost seven pounds of weight and gained seven pounds of frizzy hair waiting for our hotel shuttle.

Right! Me, too! First, I want to congratulate you on your Best Debut Novel award for Enchanted Heart at UtopYA2015. To make it even more special, your best friend was in the audience. What was your first thought when your name was called?

MR: First thought: Wait, wha?! No. Freaking. WAY!

I really truly didn’t think they’d called my name. The Best Debut Novel category was stacked with some seriously awesome books and writers.  I was seated next to the lovely Delphina, (Best Debut Novel Nominee for her “Unless You Can Be a Unicorn.”) and ready to squeeze her neck when I saw my name on the screen. My best friend turned and squealed, “That’s you!!!” Then she pushed me out of my seat. I know I hugged Carol Kunz, slapped Adam Kunz a high-five, but, truly, nothing processed until I saw Regina Womba, my cover designer, and Janet Wallace.  It all started clicking and by the time I got on stage well, my Holy Skittles! (substitute skittles for the other S word) came flying out. 

Tina Donnelly with Mindy Ruiz & her dear friend
I loved it. It was such a special moment. So, tell us a little about Enchanted Heart. Also, any exciting news about The Game of Hearts series?

MR: Enchanted Heart is about a deck of cards that controls the gambling and gaming in Las Vegas. Greek gods and a condemned-man-with-a-golden-touch, Midas, oversee the Cards.  

When the Queen of Hearts’ hidden daughter, Cassandra, comes back to Las Vegas, she triggers an ancient curse that upsets the balance of power. Cassandra's thrown into an underworld ruled by four powerful families with paranormal powers & her face on a mythological hit list.

Lying, Cheating Heart will be coming out at the end of July.

The final book in The Game of Hearts series will be out at the end of the year with the title Fatal Heart.

You mentioned the awesome Janet Wallace. How has she (and UtopYA) affected the writer you are today?

Mindy with Janet Wallace
MR: Ohmilord, that’s like asking how does the sun affect a flower’s growth.  

UtopYA (Utopia Con) and Janet have affected every aspect of my writing career.  I wanted to go to the first UtopYA Con but was terrified of my own shadow. After watching Myra McEntire’s keynote speech, I swore I’d never miss out on a moment like that again.  The second year of UtopYA, I went to Nashville and successfully hugged every wall and blended in with every potted plant I could find.  I was terrified, but I was there meeting amazing people like Janet Wallace, Carol and Adam Kunz, Misty Provencher, Amy Evans, B.J. Sheldon and K.P. Simmon.  I sat in the awards ceremony that year and said to myself, “I want to be up there. I want to win an award.”

Six weeks before UtopYA Con three, Heather Hildenbrand had Janet on her call-in as a special guest. One of the crazy-awesome benefits of the call was a one-on-one hour chat with the Janet Wallace.

I scheduled my call, and my life was changed. 

People talk about that tipping point, or the x-factor, Janet, and Social Deviants were these things to me.  Through the Stand Up classes, which you can still purchase, I was able to root out all the excuses on why I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t be a successful author. I found my voice. I found my target audience, and I found a confidence buried under all the years of negative thoughts and self-talk. 

UtopYA and Janet affect every aspect of my life.  Each year I see the people, my tribe, at UtopYA (Utopia Con) I’m recharged to take on another year of standing naked in an Amazon or Barnes and Noble purchase Que. You just don’t find that at other conventions or in other people. 

Amen! So, please share your favorite inspirational quote and what it means to you.

MR:  No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt.

I love Eleanor Roosevelt. She’s a lot like my Grandma, Victoria.  Eleanor was tough as nails and didn’t take shiz from anyone. And yet she had this kind, caring quality toward people. She was the weak persons’ voice when they couldn’t speak or were too afraid. I love this quote because I allowed people, insignificant people, to make me feel inferior my entire life.  I try not to anymore, but words are powerful weapons, and when a really mean review or a blatant comment about me as a person is floating around the virtual universe, I hold on to this quote.

What do you think makes UtopYA, renamed Utopia for its fifth year in 2016, so special?

MR: The people and Janet make this place special. Janet set out to make a convention where book lovers and authors could come and be together. Hugs and squeals are encouraged along with awkward fan-girl moments. You celebrate everyone’s victories and lift as you climb to the next level of success. You may go down to breakfast a party of one, but by the time you sit down, you’re a party of four.  

Not many people find their “one place” on this earth where EVERYONE is just like them.  

Earlier I said my best friend came to Nashville with me this year. I freaking adore this girl; she’s been my friend through twenty years of really amazing highs and near-fatal lows. Halfway through the convention she turned, looked at me and said, “This place … this is how your brain works? These are your people.” It was like she was seeing the real, inside-my-head, me for the very first time. I’m goofy. I’m a recovering introvert. I’m crazy awkward. I love playing an active role in the imaginary worlds that go on in my head, and I go bonkers when others can see that side.  I’m the colorblind dog who could not only see the rainbow, but had the audacity to talk about the adventure to those who couldn’t. 

Utopia is where I found other rainbow lovers like me. UtopYA rebranding itself to Utopia, it’s perfect because this convention, the people involved, this is my little slice of heaven on earth.  It’s exactly how I would have imagined a book lover’s utopia!

I love it. I'm a rainbow lover, too! Please share a photo you loved from UtopYA.

MR: I loved this photo Stacey Marie Brown captured.  My best friend is in the lower left and it’s like she’s using the screen to actually see who I am. Her very own looking glass, if you will.

✮ Quick Answers 

Last Movie you saw: Trainwreck (Bethany Lopez and a movie theater that served Daiquiris. I’ll let you imagine the scene.) 
Comedy, Romance, Drama, or Horror? Romance. Always romance!
Last book you read: Heather Lyons, The Collector Society. Fabulous book! 
First job: Courtesy Clerk at Sports Authority.  
Gift cards or cash? Cash. Make it rain, baby! Make it rain!!!! 
Favorite Vacation Spot:  Anywhere with a pretty beach, an umbrella drink, and wifi for my kindle downloads. 

More about Mindy

Mindy Ruiz is the author of Utopia Con’s 2015 Best Debut Novel: ENCHANTED HEART, as well as, LYING, CHEATING HEART in the Game of Hearts Series. Since her first story about a magical, museum hopping chair in the fourth grade, she’s loved exploring those things that can not be explained, and must simply be believed.

Now, Mindy writes paranormal romance guaranteed to make your heart race. Her stories combine snarky heroines, tormented heroes and buckets of swoon.  Mindy is the lover of a good romance, the underdog, and all things John Hughes. She spends her free time chasing after three boys or flirting with her hunky husband. In the quiet moments, she’s watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, or hanging out at the beach with her very large and loud Italian family.

Mindy lives in a sleepy Beach Town in Southern California with her toes in the sand and her mind in the clouds.

Social media:
newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bkjTAH

Please visit often for more UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) interviews, 
and check out the announcement post to see 
the schedule and links to past interviews.

July 29, 2015

Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) : Snowa Fox

Please welcome my next guest in the Meet Some UtopYA2016 Lovelies (Unofficial) series. Snowa was a beautiful new find at this year’s UtopYA. I got the chance to talk to her several times (she won one of our IndieBooks Gone Wild giveaways). She’s lovely. I’ll never forget her sweet hug after I talked about how UtopYA has enriched my life.

Thanks so much for hanging out on my blog today. I love this selfie of us together, and I am not a selfie wizard by any means.

SF: Thank you for having me. I enjoyed my first UtopYA  so much and winning the giveaway was amazing, but meeting all the people was incredible! I highly recommend attending if you love books or writing in any form. 

Your first book, Crown of Smoke (The Angel Marked Series #1) just released in time for UtopYA2015. I just downloaded it and can’t wait to read it. Can you share the synopsis, book cover, and a fun teaser graphic here?

I love the idea of a dream guardian. How did this story idea come to you?

SF: I wanted to write the story of someone who was a hero, a prince, and instead of winning and gaining his future I wanted to see what would happen to one who lost it all, who had to resurrect a life they wanted from the ashes of a life of duty, privilege and honor. Would he be the same, would he rise above, would he fail?  I also love dream catchers and the idea that someone protects us while we sleep. I had many dreams about this story and it evolved as I did.

When can we expect the next book in the series?
SF: hopefully late October or early November

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

SF: When I was little, I always had my nose in a book and my head on an adventure. I won a young author award in fifth grade and became hooked on writing.

What’s your best advice to someone who’s struggling to finish their first book or suffering writer’s block?

SF: Try making lists of all the things that could change for a character: top ten things that could get worse, or what if you add an element that twists the story into a tale of horror, or tragedy, or romance. Just let your mind flow with it for a bit, to get into adventure mode. Finish the book. Decide early on how you want the story to end and have three options. Then make your way toward them and do not force it, let it jump out at you.

That's awesome advice. What is your favorite inspirational quote? Why?

SF: Fairy tales do not all end happily, the ones that do contained a lot of struggle to get there. It grounds me in life and in writing, that there is no correct version, life holds as much sorrow as it does happiness and stories should too.

What do you think makes UtopYA, renamed Utopia for its fifth year in 2016, so special?

SF: This was my first year, but the love, support and friendships drive this conference beyond any other. I believe the momentum will overflow with the fifth year theme and help many more who are searching or struggling.

Please share with us one of your favorite pictures from UtopYA2015...

SF: I loved meeting Jo Michaels because her blog and her help have motivated me to read and do all I can to continually learn my craft so that my dream can come true!

Everyone loves Jo! She's awesome. Now for some...

 Quick Answers 

Last Movie you saw: Jurassic World 

Comedy, Romance, Drama, or Horror? Drama 
Last book you read: KillShot by Aria Michaels, currently reading Fractured Glass and The Moon-crossed Series 
First job: pet store, I love animals 
Gift cards or cash? Gifts cards 
Favorite Vacation Spot: a beach anywhere or a cabin in the mountains

More About Snowa

Mythology enthusiast and Reece's Pieces lover, Indie Author Snowa Fox is a native of Nashville, TN. She is happily married to a sweetheart of a guy who supports her dreams. She is the mother to  four pre-teen children and one furry baby named Harley who is a chihuahua and min-pin mix. She loves unique jewelry, painting, iced coffee and anything fantasy related.

Please visit often for more UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) interviews, 
and check out the announcement post to see 
the schedule and links to past interviews.

July 27, 2015

Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial)

Last year, I featured some of the amazing people I finally met in person at UtopYA 2014 (see post here). This year, I promised myself I would meet more people and put myself out there. And I did.

Starting Wednesday, July 29, I will feature the following interviews from some of the amazing people I met this year.

The schedule:

July 29 -- Snowa Fox
July 31 -- Mindy Ruiz
Aug. 7 -- Ethan Gregory
Aug. 12 -- PM Hernandez
Aug. 14 -- Eva Pohler
Aug. 19 -- Morgan Wylie
Aug. 21 -- Laura Howard
Aug. 26 -- CJ Pinard
Aug. 28 -- Ashley Bodette
Sept. 4 -- Christina Marie
Sept. 9 -- Desiree Williams
Sept. 11 -- Misty Provencher
Sept. 16 -- ER Arroyo
Sept. 18 -- Ginny Gallagher
Sept. 23 -- Michelle Miller
Sept. 25 -- Kristen Bauer
Sept. 30 -- Delphina Henley
Oct. 2 -- Felicia Tatum
Oct. 9 -- Kelly Martin
Oct. 14 -- Tricia Copeland

And don't forget to buy your tickets to the 2016 Utopia conference here. Tickets sell out fast, and you don't want to miss it. This year's theme is #fightforyourwrite. For more details on this year's theme, go here

Here's the pretty new banner...

As interviews go live, I'll update this post with links. Please stop by and find out about these amazing Utopians. 

July 25, 2015

The Debut Collective

This year at the end of Utopia--during open mic--many attendees expressed an interest in writing their first novel. Or, maybe it was even their first time declaring they wanted to be a writer. Many left pumped up to publish by the 2016 conference.

To that end, several Utopians came up with a plan--The Debut Collective. It'll be a five-book series of short stories focusing on the #fightforyourwrite theme of Utopia 2016 which will debut at the conference next year. 

Victoria Faye and Colleen Nye Shunk are heading up the project with the help of Shantele Summa Martin as the fearless leader of this amazing group. Crystal Bryant is leading the editing team (of which I'll be a part), and Elizabeth Kirke is leading up the formatting. Finally, Victoria will also be making the logo, branding, and heading up the cover designs.

In addition to first time authors, these anthologies will include previously published authors. The five categories/books:

1. Act of Bravery
2. The Underdogs
3. Insurrection / Hostile Takeover

4. Secret Identity
5. Love against all odds

I chose #3 because it's not my usual genre. I'm so excited.

Over the next several months, I'll share more information about this exciting series.

* Note: this is a project inspired by Utopia and featuring many Utopia authors and attendees. However, it is not an official Utopia-affiliated project.

July 22, 2015

Bound by Duty by Stormy Smith Sale Event

Join a Live Streaming Event with Stormy Smith & Four Guest Authors + Prizes!


Every now and then an author offers up a really unique opportunity to engage, and when I heard about how Stormy Smith, author of the number one best-selling Bound series, planned to celebrate Bound by Duty’s first birthday, I had to share! 

On July 23rd, Stormy is giving fans two opportunities to not only interact live with her, but also with four amazing young adult authors! This gives readers around the globe a great opportunity to be part of the celebration! 

From 12 – 2 p.m. Central, you can live stream and have Q&A with Stormy, South African author Carlyle Labuschagne, and American author Jamie Magee. 

From 7 – 9 p.m. Central, you can live stream and interact with Stormy, and young adult authors Alys Arden and Heather Hildenbrand. 

In both segments, Stormy will discuss and answer your questions about Bound by Duty, read a few of her favorite passages (including a special alternate POV scene from Bound by Duty!) and give away ebooks and print copies of Bound by Duty. 

The guest authors will be taking your questions, discussing their books and doing giveaways as well.


Afternoon event 
12:00 – 12:30 Stormy 
12:30 – 1:00 Jamie Magee 
1:00 – 1:30 Stormy 
1:30 – 2:00 Carlyle Labuschagne 

Evening event 
7:00 – 7:30 Stormy 
7:30 – 8:00 Alys Arden 
8:00 – 8:30 Stormy 
8:30 – 9:00 Heather Hildenbrand 

(all times are Central) 

For full details on the guest authors and their giveaways, visit Stormy’s website.  


Bound by Duty Free Ad 

To really make this celebration great, Stormy has made Bound by Duty FREE from July 22 – 29 on all platforms! 

This is the first time Bound by Duty has ever been free, and it was only recently released to all ebook vendors.

Free July 22nd– 29th ONLY -- Grab your copy now!

Nook ** iTunes ** Kobo ** Amazon 

boundbydutyBound by Duty 

Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder, but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control, but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and doesn't even know his name. 
Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky southern girl, or fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is, not what she will become. 
As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head win the battle, or her heart?
Stormy Bio PicAbout the author

Stormy Smith calls Iowa's capital home now, but was raised in a tiny town in the Southeast corner of the state. She grew to love books honestly, having a mom that read voraciously and instilled that same love in her. She knew quickly stories of fantasy were her favorite, and even as an adult gravitates toward paranormal stories in any form. 

Writing a book had never been an aspiration, but suddenly the story was there and couldn't be stopped. When she isn't working on, or thinking about, her books, Stormy's favorite places include bar patios, live music shows, her yoga mat or anywhere she can relax with her husband or girlfriends.   

Find her: Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram ** GoodReads ** Website ** Amazon