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CWA at BlogPaws a Paws-itive Experience!

by | Jun 1, 2015 | Writing Advice & More | 31 comments

PetWorldInsiderI wrote this fresh off the plane, and am still riding the excitement of a wonderful Cat Writers’ Association partnership with the 2015 BlogPaws Conference. Many folks will share more details but I gotta brag on us just a little. But first a few fun pix to set the mood:


Amy and Pigs

Celebrity Pigs! (…don’t you DARE say it, even if you’re thinking it, LOL!)


Darlene Bryant and friend…



Emmy the Pet Sitter with her hamster friend Winnie!


Teri Thorsteinson’s celebrity cat, Coco. Stylin’ cats rule!


Waiting for TV, and ready for close ups.


Emma and Bailie with “Mom” from GBGV Life, always kewl to meet in person.

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So many Chihuahuas, so much to bark about!


Lon Hodge brings Gander to meet Coco…is that tail wagging?


…they’re like potato chips, one isn’t enough.

Layla and Rat

Layla Morgan Wilde at the awards dinner making friends with her dinner companion! (can you see his face, he liked her hair a lot!).


CWA Prez Marci Kladnik at the awards dinner schmoozing with the dressed up dogs at the next table.

Our CWA Writers’ Track Panels were a huge hit!  YEEE-HAW! But CWA expertise was everywhere this year…along with many experts in social media, marketing and more. Although I’m one of the “old cats” and have been to dozens of conferences over the years, there’s always more to learn and great new people to connect with. I have a stack of biz cards more than an inch thick to add to my twitter/Facebook connections. I even got to connect again with Robert Semrow, Pet World Insider, in a fun interview (top picture), as well as a fun segment for a new cat treat “experience” (stay tuned, will share when available). Here are some pictures and a quick recap of the BlogPaws experience.

IMG_0725Both Thursday sessions were filled with very engaged audience members eager to learn more about publishing, good writing, journalistic integrity and more. Publisher/author Bob Mayer, and authors Lisa Erspamer, Pam Johnson-Bennett and myself presented on the first Publishing Panel.

IMG_2685Then  CWA members Layla Morgan Wilde, Deb Barnes, Janiss Garza and Alana Grelyak presented on their panel. The audience members kept us with questions long after we were scheduled to stop, and then dozens (yes, I said DOZENS) of aspiring CWA members made their way to the CWA Booth to find out more about our organization.

That evening, longtime member and CWA booster Steve Dale spoke at the opening ceremonies about one of our favorite causes, Winn Feline Foundation. He not only gave a lovely shout-out to CWA and Lorie Huston (sniff), he presented the Winn Media Appreciation Award to Fran Pennock Shaw. Mee-Wow! A highlight for me on Saturday was lunch with Steve and reconnecting/catching up.

Friday morning’s Keynote, Peter Shankman, had the audience rolling in the aisles. He is an incredibly entertaining and generous speaker, with great insights and information. CWA members will remember he also spoke at one of our conferences in White Plains, NY–and he’s a CAT GUY! Stay tuned, I hear-tell that one of our members got a picture of him wearing cat ears. (Hmnnn, why isn’t he a member yet?!).

Another CWA member, Sandy Robbins, made CWA look fantastic as she spoke on a Keynote Panel on Saturday morning with Harrison Forbes and Laura Nativo about being a celebrity spokesperson.

IMG_0768 IMG_0763Wendy Christensen sent 100 copies of her beautifully designed booklet with details about the organization–I came home with only about 20 copies left. Fran Shaw had arranged for CWA members to host the booth where they not only provided great PR for CWA, but they also signed/sold a bunch of their own books. Speakers had a second signing opportunity and we signed quite a few Saturday afternoon, too.

Lea-Ann Germinder and her GoodNewsForPets team designed/created two fantastic free-standing banners for the booth that we’ll use at future events. We also created CWA “contest discount” postcards added to the cat “swag bags” hoping to encourage more nonmember cat writers to join our furry throng. That’s right, there are many cat folks at the event but also dog bloggers (horse bloggers, hamster bloggers etc) who also share their lives (and writing) with cats. Hey, we’re all in this together–for the good of ALL pets, right?

IMG_2688CWA was one of about 50 booths in the exhibit hall, where attendees got to meet all kinds of pet products companies catering to dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, you-name-it. Another whole section (about 25% or so) was dedicated to Kate Benjamin’s “Cat Style Lounge” containing cat-astic feline products.


The lovely Deb Barnes, Christine Michaels and Dusty Rainbolt at the awards banquet. Deb and Christine were nominees!

The Nose-to-Nose awards this year included seven CWA member nominees, and three CWA members Debbie Glovatsky, Alana Grelyak and Christine Michaels took home awards! What a testament to the quality of our members’ work, right? It also makes CWA look good for those aspiring to make this their chosen career, and also to potential sponsors and other pet professionals. I am so very proud!

All the speakers sessions were great, and I learned a lot. The sponsors outdid themselves. Mark Johnson, the President of Mars Petcare US (presenting sponsor), was there along with Dr. Tiffany Bierer, and a host of other great sponsors including Pet360 of course. Did you notice the CWA logo on that page, too? Yep, we’re listed as a sponsor and got lots of PR from BlogPaws.


That white dog is Nitro from rockin’ his purple jacket, with my new friend Bernard and the lovely Yvonne Divita.

I can’t say enough good about Yvonne Divita, Tom Collins, Chloe Divita and their team of tireless folks running thither and yon, including Carol Bryant, Felissa Elfenbein, Robbi Hess and I don’t know how many others  (please forgive me if I accidentally left out your name!).

Frankly, I had a blast. I also lost my voice. There were so many dogs there, wow, but also more cats and cat-centric folks than have ever attended before. I met one blogger who came from Australia and said the deciding factor to attend was CWA’s presence. That’s humbling. And exciting.

red carpet threesome

Dusty Rainbolt, Marci Kladnik and Amy Shojai on the red carpet, what fun! Hey…let’s do it again next year!

That’s why I am so very pleased to announce some exciting news–just released to CWA members and so now we’re able to tell the world. The 22nd Annual Cat Writers’ Association Awards Banquet will be held Friday, June 24, 2016 concurrent with the 2016 BlogPaws Conference at the Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa. Details about all the CWA events will be shared as they become available–and I’d encourage those interested to get in on the early bird rate for BlogPaws so you can double your pleasure!

In closing, I’ll leave you with this…Awwwwwwww!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!


  1. carmapoodale

    Amy it was so great seeing you and I know ma loved hanging out with you all. I am trying to talk her into joining the CWA since we DO have a cat now. I am afraid that Molly Mew will soon want her own blog. BOL!
    Hope I can make it to Arizona. Will have to find a sponsor first. Loved all your photos.

    • Amy Shojai

      Loved seeing you again and your Ma, too! My Seren-Kitty and Karma-Kat have to share this blog with the Magical-Dawg so maybe Molly Mew could “guest post” now and then! 🙂 Hope to see you in Arizona, too.

  2. Emmadog

    We didn’t officially chat, but I saw you all over! Hope you got home without trouble. Sunday morning in the lobby you weren’t looking too thrilled. Thanks for the mention and see you hopefully in Phoenix next year!

    • Amy Shojai

      Awww…wish we could’ve talked, just stop mel when you see me! I was running around a lot. *s* Sunday morning, Dusty and I were all set to head out and the WONDERFUL AND VERY EFFICIENT hotel staff put our luggage on the shuttle for us…before I had got back to the lobbing from a quick potty break. The shuttle left without us, but with our luggage, eeek! The hotel staff immediately called and thank goodness, it returned in record time, with luggage, and then broke speed laws getting to the plane. Oh…and as a “sorry” the hotel manager also cancelled the meals I’d charged to my room. *s* I thought the staff went above and beyond, even more so after they fixed this whoops. Hope your trip home was less eventful!

  3. Andrea @ This Pug Life

    Awesome recap! This was my first BlogPaws and man, it was even more amazing than I anticipated. The sponsors went above and beyond – a real testament to the power of pet bloggers! My hats off to Yvonne, Tom and Chloe for creating this awesome event!

    • Amy Shojai

      Amazing how much work goes into these events. All of the sessions were recorded, and some video’d so I suspect we’ll get some more info down the road on that, too. Because I just couldn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to attend.

  4. Cody-Cat Chat (@CatChatCaren)

    loved the photos! (even the upside down ones…tee hee!!) Missed seeing you all, seeing and chatting with you and Lorie Huston in Virginia is one of my fondest memories!! Glad you got a photo of Layla, that was the FIRST “Layla sighting” I had seen thus far!! Looks like it was a blast! Proud to have represented the CWA in the photo nose-to-nose category, even if I didn’t win, it was a huge honor!

    • Amy Shojai

      Upside down photos? *running to look…* How did THAT happen??? Will fix eventually 🙂 We MISSED YOU! Congrats on your nomination–we’re in the same boat, I was very honored to be nominated alongside all those incredible talented bloggers. Hope to see you next year.

  5. Sweet Purrfections

    It was so nice to meet you and have a few minutes to chat. I’ll work on submitting that application for CWA. Hope to see you again in Phoenix.

  6. Katie Kat and Mew Mew

    Thanks for sharing the pawsome photos! Wish the Mom could go… but no body to looks after me kittens… purrz, from Mew Mew.

    • Amy Shojai

      That’s why the other “staff” here stays home to watch the 2 kitties and 1 dog while I hit the road. *s*

  7. Katie Kat and Mew Mew

    Thanks for putting add your post to the BP blog hop. Looking forward to finding out more about the Cat Writer’s Association!

    • Amy Shojai

      Hope the info is helpful–if you have any questions about Cat Writers’ just let me know!

  8. The Daily Pip

    Although I am primarily a dog blogger, I enjoyed both of the CWA sessions very much and learned a great deal! Thank you!

    • Amy Shojai

      Thanks so much for coming! When we host our annual CWA Conference, in the past many members of the Dog Writer’s Association have also attended–lots of us also write about dogs (or even non-pet issues *gasp!*). Good writing is good writing, info about publishing applies no matter what your subject focus.

  9. Travel Animal Doctor

    Wow, I love all of these photos in your recap. It looks like the BlogPaws conference was a huge success for you. I cannot believe that I missed the celebrity pigs. I will be sure to attend the entire conference next year!

    • Amy Shojai

      Yes, the piggies came late to the paw-ty, LOL! But there was so much to see, it was difficult to take in everything. I had friends attend that I never had a chance to connect with. NEXT year, I’ll plan better. *s*

  10. Talent Hounds

    So many great photos! I loved the pigs in the stroller too, wish I got a photo with them. Next year!

    • Amy Shojai

      One of the piggies was shy and kept hiding her face. Next year, indeed!

  11. Groovy Goldendoodles

    Amy, you had yourself a blast! So deserved too! Sorry I wasn’t there – but I’m coming to AZ. Loved reading all about 2015 and your pictures were great too!

  12. Sharon

    Amy, thank you for sharing all of these amazing pictures from BlogPaws 2015. I’m glad your class from the Cat Writer’s Association was a success. BlogPaws always seems to be interested in learning from others and growing in how they can help bloggers.

  13. Layla Morgan Wilde (Cat Wisdom 101)

    Wow, just spotted this as I’m about to post my mini-recap of the conf. Awesome coverage, Amy. I loved every minute. It’s not every day you can say a rat was an awards dinner companion 🙂

    • Amy Shojai

      Very true! I didn’t even notice the rattie at first, he was snuggled in the scarf.

  14. Glogirly and Katie

    What a great recap, Amy! Fun photos too! The kitties and I had a great time and have been indulging in power naps ever since we got home. Thank you so much for the shout out!
    ~Debbie a.k.a. Glogirly

    • Amy Shojai

      I still haven’t completely unpacked, LOL! My “swag” arrived (I shipped) late this week and now it’s gift-time for the pets. Need to do another post just on the treasures. *s* I didn’t get to see Waffles this time but was delighted to see Her Highness… and YOU!

  15. Emmy Scammahorn

    I was noodling around on my computer and just saw your blog post! What darling pictures of Winnie and me. I usually make Pinterest albums of BlogPaws and BarkWorld but I’ve become lazy. You inspire me, as always.

  16. Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey

    For goodness sake… how did I miss this recap?! Well, better late than never! Had a wonderful time and so proud to be a part of this incredible organization!


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