MIND-PIX FROM THE CAT WRITERS’ CONFERENCE 2017

 

I am a visual person. My memory is like a slide show rather than a spread sheet.  Now that I’m back from the Cat Writers’ Association conference/ BlogPaws in Myrtle Beach, my mind is spinning with images. From the animal attendees to the sponsors to the dinners and awards, from promotion to connection to saving the world, the conference was an inspiration to me in ways I haven’t even begun to plumb.

Among the exciting and praiseworthy assortment, a few special pictures stand out, not because they were the best or the greatest, but because they spoke to me on a personal level. Maybe they will speak to you too.

 

   

Slide 1: Sophie the cerebellar hyperplasia cat and star of the Kitty Cat Chronicles Blogsite. I immediately picked Sophie out of the crowd by her distinctive wobble. Having fostered a CH cat, I went to speak with her dad about her condition and what it meant for an adventure cat such as she. The conversation entailed me fast-stepping around the lobby as dad was propelled into every corner by a curious Sophie. She certainly doesn’t know she is disabled! Cats never do. They just go on with what they have. How much can we frail and whiney humans learn from cats?


Slide 2: A collage of faces, strangers who became friends. The appearances were remarkably divergent but they all had one thing in common: an almost spiritual glow of compassion, vision, and hope. Who doesn’t need a little of that in today’s world? It comes from the absolutely unshakable love for an animal, be it cat, dog, ferret, giraffe, or ??? It is a love and respect for all animals, all life. This care and concern is amplified by the sheer number of like-minded others, and its result is a determined pledge for a better world.


 Slide 3:  A close-up of a big silver disc with a cat on it, the Muse award for my blogposts, “Life Stages”. I was so honored to have won this award for my writing. I was not alone. There were many winners among both the CWA and BlogPaws. But though everyone loves to win, loves for their hard work to be publicly acknowledged, here, it’s the work itself that’s important. Whether news articles about animal rescue and relief, blogs on breakthroughs in health and behavior, or a good cat mystery book to curl up with by the fire and chill, our work speaks for us, defines us. In that, we are all winners, all doing our part.

Many more pictures come to mind: nice people, good dinners, a comfy hotel room (one of my guilty pleasures). There was an ahhhh feeling of safety within the group, as if we all had each other’s backs, and of course, the backs of the animals. There was also a sense of equality, where the famous and the not-so-famous, the animal champions and the people who can only volunteer once a month at a shelter, those from different places and economic backgrounds, politics and beliefs, were all welcome together, joined by a singular cause: love.

 

     

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Above Politics, reblogged from DAILY FELINE WISDOM

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here, from Luna of DAILY FELINE WISDOM is the best catitude I’ve seen lately.

Source: Above Politics

 

 

 

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LIVE FROM ATLANTA

I’ve never been to Atlanta, Georgia before, and all I’m getting from my hour in the airport is that it’s hot. Feels good on my Northwest bones. This is a big sprawling hub, and I was afraid of being lost several times during my mile hike (and train ride) to my connecting flight. Coming in for a landing looked green and lush. There are probably bugs but not here in the airport.

One cool thing: bathrooms​ have easily identifiable neon signs. Good idea.

I’m on my way to the Cat Writer’s Association conference in Myrtle Beach. Almost there. This is all uncharted territory for me. I think I crossed the Mississippi River. I was excited at the prospect. All these new places. Not so excited now that I’m in this busy airport. No, Dorothy. You’re not in the Pacific Northwest anymore.

I’d like to see more of these United States though. From the ground, not on a TV screen. Maybe by train.

This is my first attempt at blogging from my phone. Excuse typos and mistakes. This is what they call spontaneous. Must sign off now. See you in Myrtle Beach.

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ON LOCATION RESEARCH FOR CAT CALL, A CRAZY CAT LADY MYSTERY #4

Nicholas Cage sits at the craps table. Angelina Jolie is serving drinks. Elvis places a bet on red fourteen, Beyoncé undulating against his arm. Nathan Fillion (the Firefly years) crosses the room, a cocktail in his hand. Gene Hackman, George Clooney, and Holly Hunter converse by the bar. Flo, the Progressive Insurance girl, plays blackjack with Natalie Wood.

These are lookalikes and wanna-bees, the hopeful television extras working their way into an acting career. How did I get here? I don’t look like an actor. I don’t belong.

I’m standing by a Wilford Brimley playing my husband. The square black lens of the camera stares at us. I smile, laugh, turn, clap, follow the director’s instructions. I hug the star of the show. I shift on my feet. They ache; I’ve been standing for six straight hours. So far.

How did I get here? I don’t belong.

Smile, laugh, turn, clap.

I’m not like the other extras. If anything, I look more like the crew, the production assistants, electricians, make-up people, the script supervisor with her long gray artless hair.

How did I get here?

How can that camera be on me?

I worry. When will they figure out I don’t belong? Can’t they tell I’m not one of them? But the show comes out and there I am on the small screen in all my scruffy-haired, yellow-teethed, acne-scarred, sixty-five-year-old glory. How could they have missed my homeliness among all that made-up beauty?

I laugh, feeling like I’ve gotten away with something. Like I’ve put one over on society. There is so much emphasis on looks, body, and style, especially among women. For me to be on television, even as background, is highly amusing. It’s a protest against all who say we have to look a certain way. It’s empowering for those like me who don’t belong.

Writing is where I belong. I feel completely at home in front of my computer making up tales. But the stories don’t come from vacuum; I use personal experiences to give them realism. In the case of Cat Call, my next Crazy Cat Lady mystery, I take my television background work, add some cats, and there you have it.

Cat Call takes place on the film set of a TV pilot. Lynley finds herself in the guise of cat handler after a friend suffers a bizarre accident on the set. Lynley knows little about cat handling for television, but the two actor cats, Cary Grant and Clark Gable, are well-trained in their parts. Lynley begins to think she might just pull it off when other complications begin to loom. Weird things are happening and there are rumors that a mysterious “hex” is sabotaging the show. When the mishaps give way to murder, Lynley decides to take the cats and get out, but her last day turns out to be more final than she could ever expect.

(As well as my background experience, I’m applying my short stint as an assistant cat handler for the cult classic, “Zombie Cats From Mars”.)

Note: The real draw to doing background work is my fascination with behind the scenes. I grew up with a mother who dabbled set design for amateur theater. What it takes to build the story that the audience finally sees is nothing short of magic. That magic is a well-guarded secret however. Like any magician, the dream-spinners don’t want us to see how their tricks are done. To be honest, most people don’t care. They just want to be entertained, happily suspending disbelief. They don’t want to know that the Star Wars universe is a big green screen or that a Phaser is plastic, cruder even than a the toys manufactured in its image. Aside from the occasional blooper reel, they don’t want to see actors flub their lines or break character, and heaven forbid they are faced with the scene between takes, when the cast waits, blank-faced and tired, for the lighting to be changed or the set to be adjusted or whatever whim the director comes up with to create that perfect shot.

It takes many, many hours to film a piece that may last only moments of time. A lot of background work is cut or edited. Good thing I’m not in it for the glory. I’m there to see how it’s done, and to play my little prank on the world, in a place I don’t really belong.

 

 

 

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On the Road to BlogPaws and the Cat Writer’s Association Conference, by Debbie De Louise

What she said. (Except for the personal bits, of course)

CWA-GoogleBanner

Source: On the Road to BlogPaws and the Cat Writer’s Association Conference

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CAT LADY, CRAZY OR GREAT?

 

Annie, the 18-year-old Siamese

Last night I went to dinner with friends. We talked, not of clothes or makeup, not of shopping or movies or places we had been, not of husbands or children or illnesses we were experiencing. We didn’t even discuss politics; instead we talked about cats. Cats we are caring for and cats we had lost, cats who needed homes and cats already in our homes, funny cat antics and litter box issues. The hilarity of cat farts.

Sometimes I step back from my cat-person persona to wonder – What it is about cats? Is there such a thing as a Crazy Cat Lady? And if so, is it some sort of mental deviation? Are we truly crazy?

Oscar’s compelling stare.

I could make the excuse that the cat made me do it and be perfectly correct. When I look into those big whiteless eyes, hear that rumble purr, I can’t resist loving them. When they call in the night or greet me at my door, I know the relationship is shared. When they jump on my head while I sleep, I forgive. When they pee inappropriately, I seek to understand. This is a synergetic relationship with an alien species. It is a grasp for an understanding of my world from another perspective.

Emilio recovering from a broken leg.

Cats give me so much, I can’t count the ways. By establishing ties with humans, they have made themselves our concern. It is our duty to care for them, keep them well and happy, and help them live to the fullest. When a cat is sick, we must heal him; when he is wounded, we must tend him; when he is scared, we must assure him. But why? What does humanity get out of this love and caring?

Tinkerbelle visits a veteran.

There are stories of hero cats who have rescued their human families from a wide range of misfortunes. Cats have saved people from other animals, alerted them to fire, even warned of heart attack and diabetic seizure. A cat was known to call 911 on a phone when his wheelchair-bound person had a fall. Therapy cats take their furry love into schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities. They visit the sick and dying. Petting a cat can lower blood pressure. Their purr can help knit bone. Cat moms and dads will do for their kitty what they would not do for anyone else, including kicking an addiction or forgoing suicide.

Oscar was scared when he first came into foster.

There was a reason the ancient Egyptians worshiped cats as gods. Originally to bring down the snake and rodent population in their granaries, which also reduced disease, cats soon proved to have so much more to give. People began bringing them into their homes. Thus evolved the cat-person.

Who can resist Bigs being cute?

Is this crazy? To be stuck in place because the cat is on my lap? Is this crazy? To spend copiously on veterinary costs while pinching pennies everywhere else? Is this crazy? To volunteer at a shelter when I could be out making money? Is this crazy? To be there every 12 hours for a decade or two to give a diabetic cat his shots? To adopt the old and infirm, just to give them quality time before they die? Is this crazy?

Little naps on my book, knowing she is in it.

I embrace my cat lady status. My relationship with cats has shown me a balance outside the human conundrum. Because of cats, I am more compassionate, more accepting, more self-assured, and more imaginative. (Yes, Little is napping on the new, yet to be published fourth Crazy Cat Lady mystery, Cat Call)

Cats have shown me how to be a better person, which after all is said and done, is the only thing I have for this world. Am I crazy? Some would give an undisputed yes, but those people are missing a dimension of life, that of sharing with a species not their own.

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Sounds Like A Plan – One-liner Wednesday #1linerWeds #NationalCatladyDay

Happy National Cat Lady (and Cat Gentleman) Day!

Jeanne Owens, author

This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday:

One-Liner Wednesday – Danger!

And is brought to you by #NationalCatladyDay and #CatCon

(Image found on Pinterest)

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Exciting News from the Cat Writers’ Association

Guardian Angel #2, by Leslie Cobb

One of the most satisfying things that has happened to me this year was being accepted for membership by the Cat Writers’ Association. To see my name among the greats like Shirley Rousseau Murphy (The Joe Grey mystery series), Debbie DeLouise (The Cobble Cove mystery series), Carole Nelson Douglas (the Midnight Louie, P. I. feline mystery series), and many more whose names you would immediately recognize was a thrill. I’ve learned a lot from the group and gained a number of friends. I’ve been exposed to wonderful cat work of all types from art to fiction to kitty how-to. I’m still thrilled every time I get a newsletter or an email headlined “CWA”.

Next month, CWA is holding their annual conference, this time in Myrtle Beach, SC, and I will be trekking from Oregon to be there. Again, thrilled and excited. I will finally get a chance to meet the people I’ve been communicating with face to face!

The Cat Writers’ Association Annual Conference is where they announce the winners of the Communication Contest. The winners of the Certificates of Excellence in the many categories have been notified, but at the conference, the Muse Medallion winners will be announced. This special prize is highly coveted among cat writers because it is only given with merit.

And even more thrilling and exciting news! My 3-part blogpost, “Life Stages”, was selected as a Certificate of Excellence winner. I received a lovely script certificate and am now eligible for a Muse Medallion as well. As a first-time contest participant, I can’t describe how fulfilling it feels to have my work acknowledged by such a group of my peers.

You can read the winning entries here:

  1. LIFE STAGES: WHEN YOUR KITTY GETS OLD
  2. LIFE STAGES: WHEN YOUR KITTY GETS SICK
  3. LIFE STAGES: WHEN KITTY DIES

“The CWA is a WRITERS’ organization founded to encourage professionalism among cat writers, photographers, artists & broadcasters.”

 

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10 WAYS TO “CAT” IN 2017

What makes cats so aloof and self-possessed when their human counterparts are chasing their tails just to get through the day? Cats know something we don’t, and they’re more than willing to teach us by their grand example.

1  No one is the boss of you.

Cats don’t take well to being bossed around, and neither do most people. So cat next time someone tries to manipulate you; hold your tail proudly and walk away.

2  Ignore people you don’t like, or go sit on them.

Cats have 2 ways of dealing with those humans who offend them: ignoring them or sitting on their lap. Instead of starting an argument you can’t win, try being cat when someone is offensive.

3  Sometimes cat-tastrophe is required.

Have you ever seen a cat race fast as she can from one place to another for no apparent reason? A break from complacency can heighten the senses, combat negative emotions, and vent frustration. Who doesn’t want to cat like that once in a while?

 4  Pain doesn’t rule.

Cats are tremendously stoic. It’s very cat not show his pain until it takes over his life.  Though I’d rather cure an illness than ignore it, we may have to buck up a bit when we lose our medical insurance.

5  Fight of flight.

If a cat is cornered, she has 2 choices, fight or flight. The trick is to know which is required. No one can fight every battle. Pick the fights that mean the most to you and gracefully cat out of the rest.

6 Be here now.

Cats live in the moment, unconcerned with yesterday or tomorrow. By dealing only with today, there is less chance to get caught up by an unalterable past or an unpredictable future, leaving our energy open for catting in the now.

7 You can sleep anywhere.

Ever notice how a cat can nap in some of the strangest places? Think cat next time you’re whining about your lumpy mattress or your worrying mind.

Be confident.

When things don’t go right the first time, be more cat. Try again – or walk away and do something completely unrelated.

9 Affection is warm.

Warmth is a cat magnet. Whether it’s a heating pad or a cozy lap, keeping warm is a duty when the cold season rolls around. But warmth is more than temperature. We all need our loved ones and should remember to give them a purr of thanks for standing by us.

10  Love is floofly.

Sometimes stuff sucks.  That’s when there is nothing better than to be extremely cat and curl up with someone you love.

Thank you, internet, for sharing the cat pictures with me.

 

 

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LIFE STAGES: WHEN KITTY IS GONE

A home is never so empty as when one has lost a beloved cat. Even if there are other pets still present, chances are they feel the loss as well. If kitty went peacefully, there will be empty beds, forsaken toys, and an overwhelming absence in all the places he liked to be. If his last days required medical assistance, there are probably a different sort of remembrance in the form of leftover medications purchased in hopes of recovery, maybe a half-used fluid bag, a geriatric litter box, or cans of special foods. All these things are reminders that he is absent and things will never be the same.

No one gets through life without grief. Breathe deeply and let it happen, because denying it will only cause more pain. But what else can we do besides lie on the couch and hurt? Here are a few ideas that have worked for me.

1.      Forgive yourself. Chances are, no matter what happened, you are taking blame upon yourself, but, you must accept it was not your fault.

2.     Attend a Pet Loss Support Group. Help heal in a supportive environment with others going through the same thing.

3.     Create a project in kitty’s memory. Whether a drawing, collage, or  afghan crocheted in kitty’s colors, the act of doing can bring a sense of peace.

4.     Put together a photo album. Don’t be afraid to show it to your friends. They understand.

5.     Write a journal. It can be just for you or to share with others. If you have a blog, share it there. If not, this may be a good time to start one.

6.     Share on social media. Whether a simple statement about kitty’s passing or an elaborate eulogy with photos and video, you may be surprised how far-reaching your post will be.

7.     Go to PetLoss.com, “a gentle and compassionate website for pet lovers who are grieving over the death of a pet or an ill pet.”  Note: be prepared to cry, but that’s a good thing.

Have faith that the grief will lessen and the wonderful memories of your time with kitty will float to the surface. And when the time is right, another cat – a different cat – will call for you to bring joy into each other’s lives again.

 

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