Ding! My iPhone announced the arrival of a new e-mail. Unlocking the phone, I read “CONGRATULATIONS!” in the subject line. My heart pounded as I read the message. “You have won a ticket to the Cat Writers’ Association annual conference.”
A million thoughts began to swirl around in my mind. I actually won? I’m going to Houston, Texas? How much vacation time does my husband have left? What type of clothes should I pack?
With just a week before the conference, my house bustled with activity. From booking the hotel, to packing, to going over the eight page care guide for our fur babies with my parents, there was so much to do. Being an active member of the Dog Writers Association of America, I could hardly wait to see what the CWA had in store.
We made the 12 hour drive from Illinois to Texas in record time. The hotel had its own restaurant and we decided to give it a try. While we waited for our food, a friendly female hotel guest walked over and complimented me on my cat shirt. I soon found out that she was also attending the CWA. We immediately began talking about our blogs and cats. These are definitely my people!
We made it to Houston…with no problems!
The schedule for the conference was packed full of great sessions.
The CWA members were so welcoming. I felt like I was chatting with friends I had known all my life. We shared photos of our fur babies and talked about our blogs, books, and passion for all things cat.
The first session was entitled Research: First, Last, and Always. The panelist did a wonderful job explaining why research is crucial to all types of writing. They even offered some special tips and tricks along with wonderful resources to help make research a breeze.
Panel experts Amy Shojai, Patricia Fry, Arden Moore, and Lea-Ann Germinder.
Cozy mystery author Mollie Hunt took to the stage for her session entitled: Changing the World Through Fiction: 7 (plus 1) Techniques to Effectively Promote Your Point of View. She delved deep into the world of fiction writing while stressing the importance of maintaining values as an author. I loved how passionately she spoke about introducing one’s cause into his/her writing.
Author Mollie Hunt spoke about adding values in fiction.
The CWA Conference keynote was delivered by none other than America’s Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker. His presentation focused on the Fear Free brand that he created to help pets (and their humans) take the stress out of going to see the vet. Dr. Becker offered up great strategies for attendees wishing to build their own brand.
America’s Veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker!
Marketing guru Lynn Thompson shared her knowledge of branding in Brand Yourself! Presenting a Unified Image Online. Following a quick break, author/blogger Amy Shojai took to the stage for her presentation: The Hybrid Author: Publishing Print, Ebooks, & Audio. Amy gave great advice as well as links to websites and services that she uses to publish her books.
Amy Shojai breaks down the world of publishing.
The final presentation on Friday was one of my favorites. Photographer Rick Reichenbach shared his secrets to taking awesome cat photos in: Cat Photography Made Simple. I was blown away at how simple taking photos of my cats can really be. Reichenbach did a fabulous job of keeping the photographer jargon to a minimum.
As a special treat, CWA attendees were invited to El Gato Cat Cafe. Having been to Mauhaus Cat Cafe in St. Louis, Missouri, I was eager to attend.
El Gato Cat Cafe in Houston, Texas.
This cafe is amazing! The staff was beyond friendly and the cats were simply adorable. I love the layout and design of the cat rooms. They are definitely catified. Jackson Galaxy would be proud.
Check out these adorable photos of the gatos!
This dedication wall is amazing!
I fell in love with this gorgeous muted calico.
Toothless dominates the cat bridge.
Saturday’s sessions were equally amazing. Editor Janiss Garza gave an amazing presentation about adventure cats. She even had her gorgeous cat, Summer, with her. Summer even performed tricks to the smitten crowd.
Summer dazzled the crowd with her tricks.
The final session was presented by Lea-Ann Germinder, President and Founder of Germinder + Associates. She gave a very informative presentation about storytelling methods that work for brands both on and offline.
CWA attendees were also allowed to attend the CFA Cat Show taking place on the main floor of the hotel. This was my very first cat show and I absolutely loved it! All of the owners were more than happy to gush about their cats.
Meet Aharon! Can you believe that this showstopper was left outside by his previous owners?
This pretty kitty has only one coat of fur!
A judge inspects a kitty contestant.
I had a fabulous time at my first CWA conference and cat show. I’m in the process of completing my CWA application and hope that I will be able to join this group of amazing cat writers soon. To learn more about the organization, please visit: http://catwriters.com/wp_meow/
Thank you, CWA!