Highlights From the Cat Writers’ Association 2012 Conference

How a Cat Writer's Conference begins... it's all in unpacking the boxes for the kitty swag!!

I apologize for the break in blogging, but I have just returned from the Cat Writers’ Conference in Los Angeles and will admit to a serious bout of jet lag. Now that I have collected myself (relatively speaking), I must say that it was well worth the trip and that I am overwhelmed by the talent of the members, the generosity of the sponsors, the quality of the seminars, and the amazing job done by those involved who coordinated the event.

The Cat Writers’ Association is a compilation of not just writers, but artists, photographers, poets, journalists, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, bloggers, editors, publishers, and everything in-between that has to do with the subject, love, and passion for cats. Celebrating its 20 year anniversary, I felt like it was a trip down the red carpet as we were educated, entertained, wined and dined, and socialized to the hilt for three days!

To properly stuff cat swag bags, it is essential to have cat loving ladies to help out - seen here is Janea Kelley of Paws and Effect and Angie Bailey of Catladyland!

The event started on Thursday night with the traditional meet and greet with our newest members,”The Kittens,”  and a bag swag stuffing marathon!! For such a bunch of talented people, this was actually an exercise in fun chaos as we tried to figure out how to efficiently stuff these bags and I will admit we have a lot of room for improvement…. Needless to say, however, the cats in wait at home could care less about the behind the scenes of how these magical bags are created, all they care about is connecting to the catnip, tasty treats, and toys!!

Voila!! Many laughs later, the bags are done!!

Friday was a day of meeting editors and publishers (if you so desired) and informative seminars on such topics as how to self-publish, learning WordPress, writing book proposal and queries, followed by a night of mingling and networking with old friends such as Angie Bailey from Catladyland, Janiss Garza from Sparkle The Designer Cat, Janea Kelley from Paws and Effect, Stephanie Harwin from Catsparella, Susan Logan from Cat Fancy, and making new ones  with Kristin Dewey from Cokie the Cat, Vicky Walker and Keith Bowers from Catster, and Marilyn Krieger of  The Cat Coach.

Marilyn Krieger of The Cat Coach demonstrates clicker training with this gorgeous marbled Bengal.

All that alone would have been worth the trip, but then on Saturday, Marilyn Krieger did a seminar on clicker training for behavioral issues in your cat and my whole day was made when I got the privilege of being graced with the company of Nanuk, one of the Bengals in the demonstration. It is no secret how much I love the Bengal breed and no matter how much I enjoy these types of conferences, I miss my kitties desperately, especially my Bengal, Zoey. So, when Nanuk was done with his demonstration and wandered over to sit with me for the remainder of Marilyn’s talk, I was in absolute kitty heaven petting this spectacular cat (who, by the way, was about twice the size of my petite Zoey).

A conference highlight for me - getting to bond with Nanuk, one of the cats from the clicker demonstation.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were then treated to a talk from Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell as he discussed the process of writing his book, Cat Daddy. He is just what I expected – a grounded guy with a fantastic sense of humor who has a very natural and compelling way about him when he speaks. What did we learn that I did not already know from reading Cat Daddy? Well, number one, human to human, it is NOT appropriate to go up to someone (especially someone you do not know) and stand up really close to them and give them the trademark “I love you slow blink” that you do with a cat.  The other thing, don’t buy his book for a seven year old (actually, that was not news to me, but it was funny to hear Jackson say it!)

Jumping in for a hug and photo op with Jackson Galaxy before he enthralls us all by talking about his Cat Daddy book.

It was wonderful to then be with Jackson and other authors as we held a book signing party and got to know one another better. The night ended with an awards ceremony dinner and I am thrilled that my dear friend, Angie Baily won a Muse for her piece “Cosmic Love.”  Not in attendance, but also friends and winners were Layla Morgan Wilde of Cat Wisdom 101 for her “Portrait of Gris Gris,” Ingrid King for her Conscious Cat website, Robin Olson for her Covered in Cat Hair website, and Bernadette Kazmarksi of the Creative Cat for numerous entries.

It was so much fun to share a book signing with Jackson Galaxy!!

I am still riding the high of being part of such a wonderful group of people and hope that those of you who are thinking of joining will do so. Please click here to read all about the association and what it entails to qualify as a member. To follow are a few snapshot memories to share with you – hope you enjoy!

My leopard shoes with heels that actually match Zee & Zoey's logo!!

Sandy Robbins, Angie Bailey, Deb Barnes, Janea Kelley, and Stephanie Harwin.

Janiss Garza with her fiance, Brian.

Angie Bailey, Janea Kelley, Carole Stevens Bibisi, and Stephanie Harwin.

Minutes after I got home from the conference, Jazz is loving all the swag!

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  1. Looks like an amazing conference and huge fun!!!
    I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there to meet everyone. Will definitely add it to my wish list for next year.
    Great recap and photos, Deb!
    Congratulations to all the Muse winners!!!

    • Deb says:

      Glogirly – the conference is going to be held at the same place next year in LA and I hope you will be able to attend. The layout of the rooms for the seminars was great and made it so nice that we did not have to rush around from one area to the next!

  2. Excellent post about the 2012 Cat Writer’s Association! A great wrap up with photos! Very cool that you met Jackson Galaxy. Sorry I could not attend this year, but once again, thank you for the blog post.

    Dr. Plotnick

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for stopping by to comment, Dr. Plotnick. You were very much missed and I hope that you will attend next year so that I can meet you in person!

  3. Catsparella says:

    Great wrap-up, Deb!! I’m so glad we got to spend some time together! I love the picture of your bonding with Nanuk!! 🙂

    • Deb says:

      Catsparella – it is always wonderful catching up with you at these conferences! Glad you were able to make it, I know it was touch and go with Sandy!

  4. Chris Davis says:

    Thanks for the great post and photos – sure wish I could have been there! Nanuk is beautiful, and so are those shoes!

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Chris – wish you could have been there as well. Nanuk had fur like spun silk and it was such a joy having him settle with me like an old friend! As far as the shoes, there is nothing better than being with a group of people who don’t find it odd at all that I wear cat ears or leopard shoes with heart heels!!

  5. Deb wherever you go you add your catty attitude (and I mean in the best sense possible.) Sounds like a place of heaven for all of us cat lovers. As always your leopard print is fantastic and those shoes! Thanks for bringing us along to the conference.

  6. Love the pictures and wrap up. My Seren-kitty was all over the catnip Pawbreaker this year, and begging for treats and toys. I’ve learned from past experience to pack an extra EMPTY bag for all the swag. Great to see everyone again!

    • Deb says:

      Amy – always wonderful to see you and thank you for having the vision with some of the other long-standing members to make the CWA what it is today! I am sorry I missed your Kindle seminar – I hear it was fantastic and hopefully I will catch it if you do it again next year!

  7. CATachresis says:

    Looks and sounds like it was a lot of fun 🙂 Glad you got to meet Nanuk 🙂

  8. Ingrid King says:

    Thank you for this wonderful recap. I missed seeing everyone, and photos on Facebook were very sparse this year, so this was the next best thing to being there 🙂 I’m happy to hear that I won a Muse Medallion – especially since nobody had notified me yet!

  9. This just made me smile and be grateful and giggly that I know you ladies (and that you know how to party!). Great post of a fantastic gathering!

  10. Pawsome photos! We’s so sorry work hijacked mommy & she couldn’t make it….
    We especially love the pic of you with Nanuk. Tres COOL!

  11. Penelope says:

    Gosh! I really wish I had more time to be more of a cat blogger and writer, instead of computers. Your conferences look like so much more fun than the ones I ever get to go to1
    Nellie’s Mom

  12. Fabulous informative post and I am so happy that everyone had a great time!
    Thanks for the reminder that I need to send my dues in by the end of the year lol……it had dropped off of my radar.
    I am also glad that you mentioned it will be in L.A. next year……..that is a little too far to travel….unless of course I win the lottery which is always in the realm of possibility lol………….

    • Deb says:

      I’m not thrilled at the LA aspect either, Caren, but it really was a great hotel! I have plans to win the lottery too – what are the odds of that!!

  13. Marg says:

    That looks like everyone had such a good time. What fun to meet all the writers. OK, Deb we need some pictures of your kitties. Have a great day.

  14. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    knot ta worree mrs Z & Z

    by gettin bak a few dayz late ….it gave us time ta kleen up after de awesum partee Z and Z hosted while ewe wuz gone and

    whoa…wait a minit…wrong comment on de wrong blog…..

    knot ta worree mrs Z & Z…..all wuz well at yur houz while ewe wuz gone and glad ya had a reeely grate time coz all of uz at de partee had a grate time two

    🙂 thanx Z & Z N remember: no one noez a thing bout de busted vase cept it wuz de naybor cat

    • Deb says:

      Hmmm… that darn neighbor cat again, da tabbies!! They are always getting into trouble at our house!! Thanks for stopping by – we always enjoy your clever comments!

  15. Angie Bailey says:

    What a wonderful wrap-up! I can’t believe it’s already been a week! I miss you already and wish we were neighbors, my friend. What a fantastic conference! xo

  16. Fisher says:

    These conferences are so awesome. Lottery or no, I am going to get to some of them!

  17. Deb, awesome wrap-up! I missed seeing you so much. Paws crossed for next year. LOVED the pic of girls with the tattoo and the shoes!!!!

  18. Connie Marie says:

    Great pictures! You have a way with words that combines
    all that happened into a seemless enjoyable article.
    Do you own any non leopard ( hush mymouth) clothes?

    • Deb says:

      Oh my goodness, Connie!! I think you need to wash your mouth out with soap!! LOL, I’ll never tell…. And thank you for the compliment on the writing style – I appreciate it very much!