Posted in Blog Paws, Cat Writer's Association, Conference

Five Important Things I Learned from Attending the Cat Writers and BlogPaws Conference

Before reading this, you may want to check my previous preview post about the BlogPaws/CWA conference that took place at the Sheraton Convention center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. As a follow-up, I’d like to share five important things I learned from the conference.

  1. Multitasking is counter-productive.  Although I’ve suspected this for some time, Robbi Hess of All Words Matter in her seminar, “Overworked & Overwhelmed? 4-Step Process to Reinventing Your Writing & Your Routines,” stated that “multitasking is not your friend” and that the only way to get things done effectively is to focus on one task at a time. Hess also outlined a way for conference attendees to organize their goals.
  2. You’re Perfect the Way You Are. This was one of the ending remarks of Kathleen Gage’s keynote address, “The Delaney Factor: Discover How to Overcome any Obstacle and Achieve More Than You Dreamed Possible.” Gage emphasized, through personal example and those of other people who have achieved their dreams despite setbacks, that the only person we need to compete with is ourself. We are all unique with unique talents and abilities, and we should not let fear or insecurity stop us from reaching higher goals for ourselves.
  3. Content Differs by Medium. Twitter users know that they are restricted to 140 characters and that images are the primary focus of Pinterest and Instagram, but how are similar posts fashioned to reach audiences of various social media sites? Susan C. Willett, CWA member and award-winning blogger of Life with Dogs and Cats, explained with examples how this can be done in her presentation, “Telling Tales: How to Write & Craft Posts that Attract, Engage & Keep Your Audience Coming Back for More.”She also went over some important blogging facts such as keeping posts short, how and where to find ideas for posts, and the average length of a link that sets engagement (it’s longer than you think).
  4. Networking in person at conferences and events adds a dimension beyond online networking.  Although it isn’t always possible to attend in-person events because of costs or travel issues, the benefits outweigh the problems. Even if you are restricted to a local author event or book talk, meeting people in person, even those you “know” online, can forge a deeper connection. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Amy Shojai, CWA founder, CABC, and nationally known bestselling author and pet expert who writes the September Day series of novels, or “Thrillers with Bites,” as she calls them. Amy and I met for the first time years ago at one of the CWA conferences. We have been in touch online, but seeing her in person again after all these years was like reuniting with an old friend. I also enjoyed meeting Mollie Hunt, another CWA member and online friend, for the first time. Like me, Mollie writes a cozy mystery series, The Crazy Cat Lady Series. A new CWA friend, Dawn White, who I met at the conference and had not known online realized that we live very close to one another despite the fact that CWA has members all over the U.S. and several in other countries.
  5. Attending Conferences can be stressful and tiring but also a lot of fun.  While traveling and networking carry
    One of several pets I “dined” with during the conference
    Pet strollers were common sights around the convention center.

    some anxious and exhausting moments, they can also be enjoyable and fun. During the joint conference of BlogPaws and the Cat Writer’s Association, cats and dogs were seen throughout the conference center and were guests during sessions and at meals. The exhibit hall was full of booths featuring great products, information, and creative displays, some of them interactive. One of the sponsors, Red Roof Inn, a hotel chain where pets stay free, held a Sip and Paint Night where attendees painted a sunset beach scene with pets and, for those who wished, could have their paintings shipped home free of charge. The CWA kitty lounge included a feline/human astrologer, Ellen Zucker of Practical Astrologie. The CWA Happy Meower and awards banquet was a great opportunity for members to chat, grab a bite to eat and drink, and dress up in their fanciest cat clothes. Food was plentiful, and desserts beyond delicious especially one memorable Key Lime Pie. And, of course, the overflowing swag bags by the generous pet exhibit sponsors, made all the pets left at home happy when their person returned from the conference.

    The Sip & Paint event sponsored by Red Roof Inn, a chain of pet-friendly hotels, was a fun event.
    The Happy Meowr and CWA Banquet gave me a chance to strut my kitty clothes. Note the ears and shoes.
    Bug, Dr. Ken Lambrecht’s plus+ at the conference

    I had many other wonderful experiences at the BlogPaws/CWA 2017 conference. These are only some of the highlights and important concepts I learned.

  6. I was able to dress up and have my photo taken at this interactive exhibit booth.
    Key Lime Pie was just one of the luscious desserts at the conference that I didn’t care about cheating on my diet for.

    My cat Stripey sniffed the catnip toys in my suitcase when I got home and couldn’t wait for me to open it.

 

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Posted in Cat Writer's Association

On the Road to BlogPaws and the Cat Writer’s Association Conference

In a few days, I’ll be leaving for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to attend the joint conference of the Cat Writer’s Association and BlogPaws. For those not familiar with these two great groups, let me fill you in. The Cat Writer’s Association (CWA) is a group of authors dedicated to spreading the word in all formats about felines. Their mission, as stated on their website, is “to encourage professionalism among cat writers, photographers, artists & broadcasters.” The group was founded in 1992 and is still going strong. Its first president was Amy Shojai, a nationally known, award-winning pet expert and CABC (Certified Animal Behavior Consultant) who has written numerous articles and both non-fiction and fiction pet books.

I am honored to have been a member of this association for many years and actually published my first two pieces of writing so I would be eligible for membership. Last year, I won a special award from Hartz Corporation for my entry, “Brush Your Cat for Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health,” in their annual contest.

BlogPaws is known as “the premier social media company for pets and their people.” Founded in 2009 by pet lovers and bloggers,  Their website states that, in less than 5 years, they became “the go-to resource for pet bloggers and social media enthusiasts looking to build their online presence to enhance their social networks and support animal shelters and rescues around the world.”

The conference features speakers, workshops, one-on-one sessions, table topics, and much more. Topics range from branding, copyright, social media, videography, photography, SEO, and other areas of interest to writers, bloggers, and pet enthusiasts. The keynote speakers are marketing strategist and product-creation expert Kathleen Gage and New York Times bestselling author and most re-tweeted person among digital marketers, Jay Baer.

There will be a banquet dinner on Friday night, May 19, at which CWA awards will be presented. The Nose-to-Nose Blogpaws awards event is the following night along with a final party before the conference ends on Saturday, May 20. The exhibit hall where sponsors and other vendors will display their pet-related products and services throughout the conference will also feature a cat lounge where CWA members will sell books, offer giveaways, and provide information about CWA to those visiting their table. I will be volunteering there on Thursday, May 18 from 4-5 pm and on Friday, May 19,  from 11-12. The conference hotel is also pet-friendly, and there will be a pet park as well as a rest/nap area for attendees who bring their pets. Although I’m not bringing my cats, I’ve promised them I’d bring home some kitty souvenirs.

To give you an idea of what goes on at a BlogPaws/Cat writer’s conference, here’s a video from last year’s event that I, unfortunately, couldn’t attend.

As with all conferences, the volunteers and sponsors are the ones who make things run smoothly. There will be special events hosted by Bayer, Merrick Pet Care, Pet Safe, Red Roof Inn, and VCA. Purina is also sponsoring the CWA Awards. For those who have registered for the conference, a weekly email newsletter is sent with updates and an online planner is available for them to organize their schedules. Blogpaws has also been hosting weekly twitter sessions about the conference on Tuesday nights.

For more information or to register before it’s too late, check out the conference site at http://blogpaws.com/events/2017-conference/ The complete schedule can be found here: http://blogpaws.com/events/2017-conference/agenda-and-speakers/ If you can’t make it, I’ll be posting the highlights when I return to show you what you missed. As Sneaky, the character cat from my Cobble Cove mysteries would say on his blog, “it’s going to be a pawsome event.”

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, blog challenge, Books, Cat Writer's Association, Cloudy Rainbow, Limitless Publishing

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: My Publishing Journey

blogchallengegraphicupdatedI’m very excited to participate in the blog challenge Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

debbiehicksvilleThis week, I will be talking about my publishing journey where, how, and why I started on this path, how far I’ve come so far, and where I hope to be in the future.

lobaughawardI’ve always loved reading and writing. When I was young, I would drive my family crazing making up and relating stories before I even knew how to write. In college, I majored in English and became a Features Editor on the student newspaper at Long Island Unversity/C.W. Post Campus. I received a special award for my writing on the paper, The Lawrence C. Lobaugh, Jr. award in journalism. When I decided to become a librarian and enrolled in the Palmer School of Library and Information Science also at Post, I volunteered to edit and publish the graduate school newsletter, Annotations.

debbieaward1After college, I wrote articles for cat magazines and published a short story in a mystery anthology called Cat Crimes Through Time. I also joined the Cat Writer’s Association and am still an active member today. In fact, I just won their Glamour Puss Award sponsored by the Hartz Mountain Corporation for my article, “Brush your cat for Bonding Beauty, and Better Health.” I received a beautiful plaque for this award and a check from Hartz.

cloudyrainbowAfter my beloved cat Floppy died, I self-published a novel, Cloudy Rainbow, and made him a character in it. My daughter was young at this time, and I stopped writing for some years following the publication of Cloudy Rainbow, but I started back up again after taking some Gale Online Writing and Publishing Courses that my library offers free to library card holders. I began submitting articles and stories to various publications and was published in my local paper and Catster.com, an online cat magazine.

stonesthrowamazonIt was at this time, that I also began writing my mystery, A Stone’s Throw, that was published in November 2015 by Limitless Publishing after their managing editor liked my tweet on a twitter event called Pit2Pub and the publisher offered me a contract after reviewing my manuscript. I had found out about this event as I became further involved in social media to help promote my work. Here is a link to my interview with Kristin Kristin D. Van Risseghem, the organizer of this event. http://bit.ly/1Yxazt8

Once I became traditionally published, I learned much more about the publishing business. The amount of time and effort that authors put into marketing and promoting their books was an eye-opener. By networking and interacting online with other authors, I discovered what happened after your book is published. I found out about book blogs, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter parties and events, newsletters, mailing lists, book talks, author signings and conferences, and much  more. It was overwhelming at first, and I’m still finding it hard to balance the time between writing, marketing, and working a full-time job as well as spending time with my family.

Currently, I am working on the sequel (possible 2nd in the Cobble Cove Mysteries) series and am very close to announcing some great news about it. I also have a completed manuscript for a psychological thriller that I’m hoping to submit to an agent for a chance at having my work considered with a larger publisher.

Below are some interviews and articles about me that include further details about my publishing journey. I have also included my social media links and website where you can sign up for my author newsletter that features a monthly contest and updates on my writing and books.

Interview for Lifestyle & Literature Blog

Interview for Jane Hunt Writer Blog

The Braille Club Interview

Interview with Natalina Reis on her blog, Never Too Late

Local Author Releases Second Novel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW/

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.com

 

 

Posted in Books, Cat Writer's Association, Cats

Celebrate National Tabby Day with Buffy the Cat

Buffy the Cat COVERHey all you cat lovers, did you know that a very important day is coming up soon? To celebrate the release of “Making the Most of All Nine Lives: The Extraordinary Life of Buffy the Cat,” (see my review), the 1st National Tabby Day will kick off at the Bideawee Animal Shelter, 410 E. 38th Street, New York, NY 10016 on Saturday, April 30th. The event will feature adoptions from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a special celebration from 12-2 with author Sandy Robins. The book launch will feature drinks and treats for both two and four-legged guests.

Anyone who adopts from the shelter during this event, will receive a special starter kit for their new pet and a photo-op with the book’s photographer, Paul Smulson.

Author Sandy Robins is an award-winning pet lifestyle expert who has appeared on radio and television. She is also a member of the Cat Writer’s Association. Dr. Paul Smulson is an oral surgeon who has also worked as a photojournalist for Chicago Daily Defender, Sport Magazine,  the Chicago Sun-Times, and Fox Sports’ Beyond the Glory. Before turning his camera lens to his orange Tabby, Buffy, he spent years photographing zoo animals.

So mark your calendar for April 30th and join the fun in New York City, or if you can’t be there, celebrate National Tabby Day by picking up a copy of Making the Most of All Nine Lives.

 

Posted in Authors, Books, Cat Writer's Association, Cats, Cozies, Cozy Chat, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series

Cozy Chat with Patricia Fry

cozycatpicAlthough I consider myself a romantic suspense author and fan, I also used to be an avid reader of cozy mysteries especially those featuring cats. For those of you who also share that interest, I will be featuring Cozy Chats with cozy mystery authors on this blog. If you are an author who writes a cozy series and would like to participate in a future Cozy Chat, please contact me.

FryThis week’s Cozy Chat is with Patricia Fry who I spoke with about her Klepto Cat Mysteries.

Hi, Patricia. Thanks for joining us on Cozy Chat. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Klepto Cat Mysteries? What gave you the idea for it?

I’ve been writing for publication for over 40 years. I started out writing articles for magazines and have had hundreds of articles published in around 300 different publications. I have also produced 41 nonfiction books—most of them books for authors on topics such as publishing and book promotion. My latest book for authors is “Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books.” (Allworth Press, 2015)

In June of 2012, I decided to give myself a birthday gift—the time and space to try writing fiction. I knew my stories would be light (cozy) mysteries and they would involve cats. I have a cat who takes my things—lingerie out of my drawers, small stuffed bears off the shelves, etc. She has a whole collection of stuffed toys that she carries around. So I decided to create a cat character who can’t keep his paws off other people’s things and who seems to have a knack for discovering clues to the various mysteries occurring locally. Hence the series title, The Klepto Cat Mysteries.

Rags, the klepto cat, is also patterned after my mother’s cat who is quite confident, strong-willed, creative, and has a sense of humor. Rags (Ragsdale) belongs to Michael and Savannah Ivey, who are veterinarians in Northern California. He has many human and cat friends who help keep the stories interesting and lively. By the way, there are no talking cats. Rags, for example, is an ordinary cat with some extraordinary habits.

CWA member and artist, Bernadette Kazmarski designs the beautiful covers for the Klepto Cat Mysteries.

That’s awesome. I’m a member of the Cat Writer’s Association, as well.  Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?

I’ve been offering advice through workshops and presentations at writer’s conferences, etc. for years. Probably the most important thing a writer must understand, if he or she wants to publish and sell their work, is the marketing concept. Know who your audience is, where they are, and how to approach them. Write for that audience and plan your marketing strategy far in advance. A book is not like a baseball field where if you build it they will come. It takes an enormous amount of thought, planning, time, and effort to write the right book for a particular audience, then to promote it successfully to that audience.

Excellent advice. What are you currently working on?

Picture Purrfect Christmas-cover-1000pxA Picture-Purrfect Christmas,” number 13 in the Klepto Cat Mystery series is already available. I have number 14 proofed/edited and almost ready to go and I’m starting the process of fleshing out book number 15. I keep thinking I’ll run out of ideas, but once I sit down at the computer, a new story just seems to flow from me. I must say, I’m addicted to the process.

I know the feeling. I’m working on the sequel to “A Stone’s Throw” right now. I don’t know if it’s going to end up a series, but I have lots of other ideas for other books, as well. Authors like you with so many titles under your belts inspire me to keep at it.

Do you write any other genres than cozies?

As I said, I have written nonfiction for years—the how-to, informational, self-help, historical, profile piece, and so forth. From the very beginning of my career, I was fascinated by article-writing. I spent several years prior to writing my first article, studying the industry and the type of material I wanted to write. I started my article-writing career writing for horse magazines. My first book was on horse care. I’ve also written for Cats Magazine, Cat Fancy, ASPCA Animal Watch, Woman’s World, Health, Entrepreneur, Writer’s Digest, and many others. I had no interest in writing fiction, until three years ago and now I’m hooked. It’s all I want to do.

I’ve written for cat magazines as well and am still doing some work for Catster.com and my local paper, but I do prefer fiction.

Patricia, can you also tell me how you got started in writing?

I married young and soon had three little girls. My husband and I didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford greeting cards and gifts, so I’d make cards to send for family birthdays, Christmas, and other occasions. People loved the verses I wrote inside. When my grandmother was injured in a car accident in another state, I was unable to visit her, so I wrote to her several times a week. She praised my letters—said they were so well-written. I enjoyed the compliments and I enjoyed the process. I decided that when my daughters were older, I would become a writer. And writing has been my passion and my livelihood over the past 40 years.

What an interesting story. What are your hobbies besides writing?

I enjoy gardening, but things have changed here in CA with the drought. Instead of nurturing sweet flowering plants, I’m becoming addicted to growing succulents, making succulent wreaths and so forth. I walk every day and have for many years. I can sew and do needlework, but have put those hobbies on the backburner. I’m still available to mend or alter clothing items for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I do love our cats. We currently have three—all rescues. There’s Lily, one of 15 kittens born to 3 feral mother cats one spring. Sophie lived on the streets in a colony until she was rescued at 10 weeks old. We found Max in our woodpile and worked endless hours to socialize him. He’s 17 and a half now and loves lap-sitting.

I’ve begun walking myself. It definitely helps clear your mind and is great exercise. Some of the other authors I’ve spoken with on Cozy Chat have rescue cats, too. 

Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?

Picture Purrfect Christmas-cover-1000pxAll 13 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries are formatted for Kindle and to date, 9 of them are in print. We brought out the Christmas story this year in print and for Kindle. All available at Amazon. You can also order them along with note cards featuring some of the beautiful covers from my publishing website: http://www.matilijapress.com/Klepto-Cat-Mysteries 

That sounds great. I have a Kindle, although I still read print books. I also order mysteries for our library and will definitely check to see if we carry your series. The note cards sound nice, too. You can never have enough cat decorated items – lol.

Thank you so much for joining us on Cozy Chat today, good luck with all your writing projects, and Happy Holidays.