CALLING ALL SPEAKERS! CWA Seeks Topics on Writing/Publishing for 22nd Conference

Pro Writer/Publishing Presenters Please Apply
Pro Writer/Publishing Presenters Please Apply
Calling All Speakers–Apply to Speak at CWA Conference!

 

The Cat Writers’ Association seeks speaker proposals for our 22nd Annual Writers Conference! Please submit your proposed presentation, along with credentials and other pertinent information on the SPEAKER PROPOSAL PAGE.

We seek topics relevant to ALL writers interested in perfecting their craft in areas of writing, publishing, blogging, promotion, marketing, and more. We encourage CWA members as well as non-members to submit proposals. Details can be found on the SPEAKER PROPOSAL PAGE here.

CALL FOR SPEAKERS will close on December 20, 2015, so get your submission in as soon as possible! The speaker lineup will be announced in January 2016.

Please note: the EARLY BIRD reduced rate ticket for the AWARDS BANQUET has passed, but the discount rate of $75 member and $85 nonmember will remain through January 19, 2016 (contest deadline). Register for the awards banquet here.

 

The Cat Writers’ Association Faces New Changes and Challenges in the Communications Environment of Today

Deb-BarnesLike it or not, our world is in a constant flux of change and this is a fact that is especially relevant to those of us who are members of the Cat Writers’ Association. The days of newspapers, film developing, hard cover books, and typewriters are virtually gone. Magazines are becoming thinner, often nothing but a billboard for ads, and journalism has been reduced to an instant, touch of the button world from the eyes of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and the like.

Many of us are of the in-between age where we have a love-hate relationship with this new world. We mourn the demise of the print world and hard hitting journalism, but we also realize that the technology of our computers and iPhones gives us a vast audience that we might not otherwise ever reach. For those in the field of cat rescue and advocacy, for example, we are able to distribute a wealth of information on the benefits of spay/neuter via videos, pictures, or written information – all in the click of a button. The likes of Grumpy Cat have become Internet sensations and while that might not appear to be journalism, the point is, social technology has brought cats to a mind boggling level of recognition.

I bring this all up because as our annual Cat Writers’ Contest comes up, the rules, categories, and submission requirements have to be re-examined to reflect the current times. The contest committee is doing their best to put together a compilation of fair-minded rules to reflect this new world in which print copy is being rapidly replaced by such entities as blogs, websites, and online magazines, but it is not easy. We are all caught in that vortex of trying to understand a new playing field that some of us are more familiar with than others while living in an old world that we do not want to entirely give up.

The bottom line is that regardless of our personal feelings or how little or how much we know about the new commutations environment, change will keep on happening and it doesn’t wait for us to catch up. We just have to make our own choice as to how we handle that. We can either embrace change – some of us taking the bull by the horns and defining the path, or we can adapt to it to whatever degree we are most comfortable with, or we can reject it entirely and live in a world that will eventually become obsolete as we know it.

It all reminds me of years ago when my Great-Great Grandmother saw television for the first time. I was in my pajamas in front of the TV and she was horrified because she was certain the people on the screen could see me. That is how I felt with Facebook – I didn’t like the concept – I found it invasive and I fought it tooth and nail until one day I decided to take the plunge and as a result I have enriched my life with people, friends, and information to a level I never thought possible.

But I am still not quite there – for me, nothing is better than the old-fashioned touch and feel of a real book in my hands and I have yet to buy a Kindle or Nook. But I am also in the throes of writing another book – unlike the first one I wrote that I stubbornly refused to offer as an e-book, this one I will… Nothing like the practicality of sales and readership to get a girl to jump on the bandwagon of change…

Cats as Muses for the New Year & New Possibilities

DebRolzThere is no doubt with the onset of a New Year that it is an opportunity for new possibilities and personal rejuvenation. As members of the Cat Writers’ Association it gives us time to reflect on new projects that we may finally feel ready to pursue, such as starting a blog that has been an idea in the back of our mind, or perhaps it is an oath to follow through on an old project that got put to the side for whatever reason.

For many of us, last year was difficult and waking up with a renewed attitude can be an easier said than done mindset. Life is far from ideal and the best laid plans or intentions have a tendency to derail along the way. As a result of that, we often allow our fears, failures, insecurities, and current circumstances to hold us back from taking that leap of faith to starting new beginnings. In those instances, we need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and learn from those we love and admire on a daily basis – our cats.

It’s true. How many times have you seen a cat jump to the top of something that seemed impossibly high? Often they do it in one swift, single leap. But if they can’t make it, they either try again, or they find another way to get up there. The point is, they don’t give up and they take the battles and obstacles in front of them as challenges to overcome.

This thought process works across the board for all of us who work for the well-being of cats through whatever communication method and it applies whether you have been a member of the Cat Writers’ Association for years, or have just joined, or are thinking of joining. For all of us, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or what we think we can’t do, insurmountable issues in our mind, if we decided to adapt to circumstances rather than let them define or defeat us, those adaptations become victories, no matter how small or large they may be. In other words, if you allow yourself mental flexibility and break down the rigid constraints of your world, you are more likely to encounter the positive in life rather than the negative because you are open to new possibilities.

The black and white of it – you have to start somewhere. Sometimes that means reinventing yourself, sometimes it is following a dream, and sometimes it is the willingness to venture into areas that are out of your comfort zone. The point is, you have to try or you will never know. If it is a new job you are pursuing, keep your mind open by learning new skills and by applying for positions that you might otherwise pass by. Or if this is the year that you plan on writing a book, then do it. You don’t have to write a best-selling novel, but you at least have to get the ball rolling by starting with the first sentence. If you are looking for a new relationship whether personal or business wise, take the first step and say hello to that person, if you are looking to end one, take that first step in saying goodbye.

Whatever it is for you, no matter how large or small the goal, just be kind to yourself and others. And remember that it is okay to have failures, it is okay to say no, and it is okay to take time for you. Life is fleeting and we don’t get a rewind button so we need to make the most out of each moment we are blessed to have. And sometimes the greatest moments and personal victories we have are those that are the simplest – a good book, a warm cup of coffee, and a cat snuggled on our lap to cleanse the mind and soul…

10 Basic Tips to Generate Blog Traffic and Keep Your Readers Engaged

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As the year winds down, as they say, out with the old and in with the new. This certainly applies to the Cat Writers’ Association as we move forward with a fresh and updated looking website that includes a blog. For many of us writers, a blog was nothing but a four letter word and not an entity to be taken seriously. Fast forward to today and nothing could be further from the truth. Blogs are a bona-fide mainstay method of communication that can be used in an engaging, informative, entertaining, or educational way to promote the health, happiness, and well-being of cats.

Blogs come in a range of writing styles – from cats writing as themselves in their own kitty language to serious blogs written by esteemed authors, veterinarians, and the like. The tendency towards loose structured content and the prevalent misuse of the English language in blogs is a topic in and of itself, but suffice it to say, if you do decide you want to join the minions of bloggers out there, it is serious business and requires time and dedication to make it work.

Much as we would like instant accolades for all the blood, sweat, and tears we put into a blog post, the reality is that unless you are willing to extend yourself, your primary readership will be a couple of family members, a few friends, and lots and lots of crickets. Frustrating and disillusioning to say the least. But all is not lost – with some basic guidelines and perseverance, you can write and maintain a popular and successful blog:

  1. The content needs to be compelling with a strong and grammatically correct headline. There are only so many ways to talk about spay/neuter, for example, so try to think of a new angle to entice people to read your article.
  2. Understand that it is not all about you. Don’t expect people to comment on your blog without taking the time to comment on theirs if they have one. Blogging is a social venue and proper etiquette deems it a two way street. Share posts that are relevant to your own readers on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Reciprocation goes a long way towards future success.
  3. Blogging is not a one-time writing assignment. It is a recurring commitment – depending on your schedule and type of blog, it could be anywhere from once a day to a couple times a week. Your readers will become accustomed to your schedule and to help keep them on track, it is a good idea to provide an email sign up for them so they can be notified of new posts.
  4. Use pictures. They can instantly can make a blog post more compelling and people are more inclined to share posts with pictures on Facebook and other social venues.
  5. Search Engine Optimization. It’s as simple as it sounds – when you write your post, make sure to include key words relevant to the topic in both the title and the content so that if someone is searching for information on how get rid of fleas, for example, your post will come up in their search and direct them to your blog if that’s what you wrote about.
  6. Blogs don’t just have to be about writing. Sharing videos in a post can often tell a story or offer solutions to a problem much more effectively than words and they are very popular with readers.
  7. Be creative and fun – we meet a lot of sponsors at the Cat Writers’ Conference and they love to have us blog about their products. As long as it does not interfere with any personal ethics you have on the product, see if you can offer a giveaway or host a contest – it is a great way to drive traffic and the sponsors appreciate the support.
  8. Take advantage of what you already do. If you are a published author or a contributing writer for a magazine or newspaper, don’t be shy about letting your readers know you have a blog. If they are already fans of yours, chances are high that they would happily follow you in a blog.
  9. Be yourself. There is nothing worse than a blog that doesn’t have a genuine voice and you will lose readers if they don’t believe in you. Good writing is a gift, skill, and talent. Use your blog to keep those skills sharp – your readers will keep coming back that way.
  10. Be the expert in your field – if your niche is cat behavior, then write the best posts you can about cat behavior. As members of the Cat Writers’ Association, blogging gives us an incredible opportunity to inform and educate large sectors of the population that we could have never reached years ago.

Bottom line – whatever type of blogger you are or decide to be, be proud of what you do and do it with the same integrity you would any writing assignment. We have the power to change the cat world as we know it with our blogs and if you build it, they will come…