The author of 16 dog books and hundreds of articles, Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz has been writing about dogs for more than 20 years. A five-time Maxwell winner, Elaine is a recipient of the DWAA/AKC Distinguished Service Award, and the Howell-Wiley, Eukanuba, and ASPCA Special Writing Awards. She served as editor of the Dalmatian Club of America’s Maxwell-winning quarterly magazine The Spotter, Dalmatian breed columnist for the AKC Gazette, and chairperson of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 DWAA Writing Competitions. A Dalmatian breeder-owner-handler and conformation class instructor, Elaine’s BIS-winning Firebuster Dalmatians bring joy, good health, and lots of laughs to their owners. Goodnewsforpets.com caught up with this sunny Californian to talk about her career and the upcoming February 14, 2016 DWAA Writing Seminar & Banquet.
Can you tell us how you started writing about dogs?
A fourth grade homework assignment about Boots, our family dog, helped launch my career. Sometimes I think I’m back writing at the fourth grade level, but at least now I’m paid for my work.
What kind of writing do you do?
I’ve written about every canine subject–behavior, breed, care, health, rescue and training. Oh wait! I take that back. I’ve never written a poem about a dog. My work has appeared online and in magazines, newspapers, journals and books.
What is your favorite book?
Last year the book What the Dog Knows, by Cat Warren swept several DWAA special award categories and won the prestigious Maxwell medallion for Best Research Book. It’s no wonder because it’s also one of my all-time favorite dog books as well.
What impact has social media and the Internet had on your style of writing?
There’s no question that social media and the internet have made quick work of many types of writing, but they’ve also changed the way dog writers distribute canine information. Finding the out-of-the-ordinary stories to share with readers is a challenge, but it’s a great way to spread the word that dogs are an important part of our lives.
What would you tell a writer starting out today?
For writers starting out today I usually advise them to get into another line of work–something like computers or accounting that seems to be foolproof, but seriously it’s the same advice people gave me a thousand years ago when I first began writing–read, read, read. Get your work into whatever publications you can and build from there. Study good writing and see how you can improve your own work. Be prepared to spend lots of time, too because good writing takes practice.
Why did you join DWAA?
I joined DWAA to associate with other people doing the same thing and to learn from them.
Why did DWAA change the format of the banquet from a dinner to the luncheon?
This year’s luncheon forges a new path from our former evening event. By trying something new and booking a lunch we’re able to use the facilities to combine an exciting one-day writing seminar with an awards luncheon to attract even more dog writers. We hope everyone who wants to write about dogs will attend.
What is different about the format?
Our morning seminar features speakers–agents, publishers, editors and other dog writers who share tips on how to succeed. It’s also a great way to connect with fellow dog writers and professionals in the field.
What can an attendee expect to gain from attending the day long event?
In addition to networking opportunities, attendees will be able to learn about new markets and hopefully pick up an assignment or two!
Anything else you would like to add?
To register for the event, go to dwaa.org/event.