National Kitten Day was celebrated on July 10. On that day, on behalf of my cats, Harry and Hermione, I posted a contest for free coupons good for 12-count variety packs of Purina Fancy Feast® brand wet cat food, any variety (up to $11.99 value) as well as a photo op for the winners’ cats. The coupons were provided by Purina along with information on the advantages of including wet food in cats’ diets.
Although many cats prefer dry food, wet food is an important part of a cat’s diet. Here’s why according to nutritionists at Purina:
Water makes up 60 per cent of a cat’s body, so it’s important for them to stay hydrated. The moisture in wet food gives them additional hydration because each lap from their water bowl only gives them about 3/100 of a teaspoon.
Wet food is also high in protein which helps maintain the muscle mass that they lose as they age.
Wet food is available in many different varieties and flavors that may appeal to even finicky felines. It is also easily digestible and contains all the vital nutrients and elements for a cat’s diet.
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. Below are the winning entries.
Also, mark your calendars for my two free book giveaways from July 19 to 22. During that time, to celebrate Harry and Hermione’s first birthdays, you can get your free books here: mybook.to/RTDmybook.to/cc4
I just returned from the Cat Writers’ Association’s 25th anniversary conference and thought some of you might want to hear about it. While it’s impossible to cover all the presentations, events, exhibits, and other happenings, here’s a brief recap of the programs I attended and my sightseeing experience in St. Louis.
The trip didn’t get off to the best start when I realized my iPhone was missing after passing through security. I went back, but it hadn’t been handed in to their lost and found. Luckily, the phone turned up when it was pinged. However, after all the confusion and rushing around, I ended up waiting at the wrong gate and nearly missed the flight. The only reason I didn’t was because the plane was delayed. After that, it was smooth sailing or should I say smooth flying.
I landed in St. Louis around noon and grabbed a taxi to the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch where I was booked for the next 3 nights. I was impressed by the lobby and the friendliness of the front-desk staff. Even though the rooms aren’t usually ready until 3 pm, they arranged for me to get in earlier because I wanted to attend the session given by Robbi Hess on “The Myth of Busyness: How to Claim Time for your Business” and needed to freshen up before it.
While waiting for a room to open, I took the opportunity to grab some lunch at Angelo’s Taverna, the Italian restaurant located in but not a part of the hotel. The food was delicious. I even came back later that night for dessert after the swag stuffing party and had spumoni which really hit the spot after taking a stroll around The Arch park in the close to 90-degree temperature.
The swag stuffing party Thursday night was more play than work as we oohed and ahhed over the great donations by the pet sponsors of the conference.
We were also treated to an appearance by Summer the Therapy Cat with her human, Janiss Garza. After the bags were stuffed, there was a raffle and then all the helpers were given a pretty gift bag that included a few snacks and a CWA 25th anniversary cookie.
On Friday morning, I attended a session presented by Dr. Kurt Venator and Dr. Janet Jackson of Purina on “The Science of Cats: Feline Nutritiion and Hydration.” This was very informative and made me feel more at ease about feeding my cats both wet and dry food, and I learned that the average cat needs to drink 20 teaspoons of water per day. I’m looking forward to viewing the flash drive in Purina’s swag cup for more information on feline nutrition and Purina’s role in providing it.
During the break after the session, I visited the exhibits, picked up some giveaways and won a prize.
The following session was conducted by Robyn Conley, a book doctor. Robyn presented “Cross marketing and Self-Editing to Broaden Markets and Multiply Sales. This was another interesting seminar that covered two important topics for writers. I also met with Robyn privately for an editor appointment the following day for her to review the first five pages of my unpublished manuscript. She wanted to spend more time to look it over, so we arranged for her to send me back the pages with her feedback.
Before lunch I attended Lisa Miller’s presentation “Practical Guide to Social Media for Selling Books.” Lisa, Business and Marketing Manager from Amphorae Publishing, discussed goal setting for book selling on social media and strategies to reach those goals. An interesting fact I learned from her talk was that a 3,000 copies is considered a good number for hard copy books to sell. She emphasized the importance of knowing yourself and your audience and to pick one primary platform to use for the majority of your postings and sharings. She also explained that social media is just one of the tools an author needs to use to reach an audience. I also met with Lisa for an editor appointment, and she answered some questions I had about publishing.
Later that day, I did some sightseeing and visited The Gateway Arch where I waited in a huge line despite my ticketed time but finally was able to take a tram up to the top where I was treated to a clear view of the city and was able to purchase a commemorative photo. I also picked up a few souvenirs in the gift shop and viewed the museum attractions.
That night, I joined other CWA authors at a book signing event open to the public that featured a fundraiser for the Humane society of Missouri.
On Saturday morning, I attended the CWA member business meeting and then took some time off to sightsee where I visited the St. Louis Central Library and donated some copies of my books. As a librarian, I enjoyed touring the lovely building and it’s interesting collections including it’s rare book room overseen by librarian Renee Jones.
Back at the Drury, I was one of the four panel members for the “Communicating, Capitalizing, and Connecting in a Fictional World.” My fellow panelists included Mollie Hunt, known for her Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series; Patricia Fry, prolific author of the Klepto Cat series; and Sandra Murphy, short story author. During the presentation, a slide show created by Mollie was shown featuring the cats and books of the four panelists. After we each gave a brief bio, we opened up the session to Q & A and were glad to answer a variety of questions about fiction writing and cozy mysteries in particular.
Since many CWA members are non-fiction writers, some weren’t familiar with genre classifications and needed a definition for a cozy mystery. I provided one that described a story usually set in a small town with quirky characters and a murder that takes place behind the scenes and isn’t gory or grizzly. I also mentioned that foul language isn’t used and that romances are sweet with any sex scenes behind closed doors. Patricia added that the cats in these books are never harmed. At the end of the discussion, we raffled off some of our books. Maggie Marton won a copy of my latest Cobble Cove mystery, Love on the Rocks. I autographed it for her, and we took a photo together.
After the panel, I attended a session on “Instagram for Authors.” I have to admit that, although I have an account, I don’t use this social media platform often. Janiss Garza (JaniceGoddess), Jessica Spawn, (catmom), and Summer the Therapy cat, Janiss’ cat who has his own Instagram account (summerstravels), have now convinced me I should consider using it more. Their presentation included instructions on how to set up an Instagram business account and profile page and the best practices for Instagram (photos vs. videos vs. live video, stories vs. posts, and IGTV). They also had suggestions on how to reach your audience by following the big accounts in your niche and the smaller active ones as well as using 20-30 hashtags on posts.
The final presentation before the awards banquet was conducted by Bob Baker who is devoted to helping creative people make a living from their endeavors. His books include The Guerilla Music Marketing Handbook that appeared in the movie “The School of Rock,” The Empowered Artist, The Guerilla Guide to Book Marketing, and The Passion Principles, 55 ways to promote and Sell Your Book on the Internet, Unleash the Artist Within, and more. Bob’s presentation was called “Hypnotic Marketing: How to Create Descriptions and Sales Offers That Mesmerize Readers and Sell More Books, Products and Services.” It was a very interactive session where members of the audience read three different versions of the same paragraph and showed how the use of using “You” more often than “I,” can make a difference in capturing people’s attention. He also gave 3 steps to effective marketing and focused on the revenue-generating step. He gave the audience a laugh and a good example when he shared an email headline that produced a high open rate when he advertised his new release by writing, “I’m giving birth to my 8th baby–take a look.”
The highlight of the conference was the awards banquet the final evening. This was a chance for cat writers to strut their stuff, donning cat ears and fancy feline wear. The event started with former president and co-founder of CWA, Amy Shojai, accompanied by Marci Kladnik and Paula Gregg singing the tune”Muse” from Strays, a musical written and created by Amy. After the wonderful entertainment, the guests were invited to a delicious buffet dinner with a special 25th anniversary cake.
The winners of the special awards and the muse medallions, the equivalent of what Arden Moore called the Acatemy Awards, were then announced. Pet Safety Cat, Casey who teaches pet first-aid with Arden, assisted her in hosting. A complete list of the winners is posted on the Cat Writers’ Association website and can be found here.
Before my flight home Sunday, I took a pleasant carriage ride through town and visited the Old Courthouse near the hotel.
It was wonderful to meet and mingle with my fellow authors, cat writers and lovers, at the conference. As a long-time member who hasn’t been able to attend many previous conferences, I was glad to be able to make the 25th anniversary and also see some of the sights of St. Louis. It was also fun to have a few photos of my cats included in the conference and award banquet programs that were beautifully illustrated and designed by member Wendy Christensen.
I’m already excited about attending the next conference which will be in Edison, New Jersey next July during the Garden State cat show.
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.