The Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) recently announced two debut panels at the upcoming BlogPaws Conference in Nashville on May 28-30, 2015. CWA members will share their expertise during two CWA sponsored panels, “Publish or Perish” and “Bridging the Gap Between Bloggers and Publishers”. Goodnewsforpets is pleased to be interviewing each of the panelists leading up to conference. Our first guest interview is from holistic cat behaviorist, award-winning writer/photographer and speaker, Layla Morgan Wilde. Layla will be featured in the writer’s track “Bridging the Gap Between Bloggers and Publishers”.
Every person we’ve interviewed has a story to tell about how they got involved writing about pets. What is yours?
When I began blogging in 2008 at Boomer Muse, I blogged about my cats in a feature called Cat Saturday which morphed into Caturday. Cats being endlessly fascinating can be greedy. They claimed one day a week as woefully insufficient and I launched Cat Wisdom 101 in 2011 as a 100% cat-centric blog. My cats still complain it’s not enough.
How did you get involved with the Cat Writers’ Association, aka CWA?
In 2011, before becoming a member, I attended my first CWA conference, which happened to be near my home. It was a revelation to be surrounded by my own kind; a tribe of creative cat lovers I didn’t know existed. I immediately applied for membership and have enjoyed a deep and growing relationship with the organization and many of the members ever since.
The Cat Writers’ Association is offering two new panels at this year’s BlogPaws Conference; can you tell us a bit about the panel you are leading?
My panel is focused on bridging blogging and journalism. I believe honing journalistic skills from fact checking to attribution to ethics builds better bloggers. I hand-picked the panelists not only because of their expertise but because we’re all friends. There is a trust and comfort level that I hope will translate into a fun and informative session to everyone attending.
You have been the recipient of the Muse Medallion for photography multiple times, what has the award meant to you and your photography?
I was thrilled to win a Muse in my first year as a CWA member and it spurred me on to strive for greater excellence. It’s always an honor to be recognized by my peers. I keep all my awards on a windowsill in my office and if I’m struggling, all I have to do is glance up from my desk for a shot of encouragement. That said, true creatives have an impetus to create no matter what. If I never won another award it wouldn’t change how and why I take photographs. The process is as necessary as breathing.
You have a background in psychotherapy and aromatherapy, how has this training influenced your writing, consulting and photography?
I’ve always been a polymath who wears many hats. It’s a creative gift I’ve learned to easily synthesize and yet I often hear, “I don’t know how you do so much!” Maybe my secret is: I don’t consider it work and remain as curious as a kitten. Cats are my passion and all my skills dovetail into my work with cats, which is 24/7. All training whether academic or experiential helps to provide the foundations of discipline. Once the foundation is in place, it’s easier to break rules or find new ways to create.
What is one cat related topic you enjoy the most writing and sharing about?
Besides writing about my own cats, I delight in sharing my shelter volunteer experiences or adventures. My weekly blog feature gives me a chance to educate while creating unique adoption PSA graphics.
You founded the Canadian registered charity, The Annex Cat Rescue in 1997 based out of your native Toronto. Now that you’re living stateside, are you involved in any U.S. based cat rescues &/or charities?
I volunteer at the New Rochelle Humane Society in New Rochelle, NY. While I advocate online for numerous charitable causes, nothing is more meaningful (for me) than hands-on interaction with cats. I work with the most difficult (less adoptable) cases and it can be heartbreaking but rewarding to see incremental progress.
What are some ways the average pet parent can get involved with their local shelter or rescue?
Everyone can do something. Every action, no matter how small can have a large impact. That one share on social media could result in reaching the person who ends up adopting a cat or making a donation. Every shelter and rescue group needs volunteers. I’d suggest finding one nearby and ask what they need. Most shelters and rescue groups have websites with volunteer info. It may be donations of old towels or cleaning supplies. It may be volunteers to play with and socialize the cats, donations for fundraising auctions, computer skills, writing adoption profiles, feeding feral cat colonies, doing TNR. Volunteering can be as hands-on or detached as your skills and comfort level dictate.
What other projects outside of writing, photography and Cat Writers’ do you have in the works?
I’m working on a couple of writing projects including an on-going pet loss study.
While I’m officially Tara the Hero Cat’s behaviorist, I also consult with several other celebrity cats. With my 20-year-old muse, Merlin in decline, I’m grateful to be able to work largely at home with him at my side.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Note: The two CWA sponsored panels debuting at the upcoming BlogPaws conference in Nashville, TN are designed to help writers and bloggers alike, improve their writing skills and publishing knowledge. More information about the CWA panels can be found here. For information about the BlogPaws and the 2015 conference, including how to attend, visit here.