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.

 

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.”